Zelenskyy: Talks with Russia possible on Ukraine’s terms

Russia and Ukraine held several rounds of talks in Belarus and Turkey early on in the war, which is now nearing its nine-month mark. The talks stalled after the last meeting of the delegations in Istanbul in March yielded no results.

Zelenskyy said Monday that Kyiv has “repeatedly proposed (talks) and to which we always received crazy Russian responses with new terrorist attacks, shelling or blackmail”.

But he has more recently refused to negotiate with Putin – itself a change in tactic after he repeatedly called for a personal meeting with the Russian leader. The Kremlin brushed off any such meeting.

Zelenskyy listed conditions for the dialogue to begin, including the “restoration of (Ukraine’s) territorial integrity … compensation for all war damage, punishment for every war criminal and guarantees that it will not happen again”.

Russia, meanwhile, resumed calls for talks after Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in the east and the south of the country began in September, but Ukraine has been rejecting the possibility ever since.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, stressed on Tuesday that Moscow is not setting any conditions for the resumption of talks with Ukraine and accused Kyiv of lacking “good will”.

“This is their choice, we have always declared our readiness for such negotiations,” Rudenko said. Ukraine’s presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak insisted in a tweet Monday that “Ukraine has never refused to negotiate”, but first, Russia needs to withdraw its troops from the country. “Is Putin ready? Obviously not,” Podolyak wrote.