International

Ukraine ready to discuss ‘neutral status’ as part of a peace deal with Russia: Volodymyr Zelensky

Speaking more than a month after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelensky said no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals.

LVIV: Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in remarks aired on Sunday.

Zelensky was speaking to Russian journalists in a 90-minute video call, an interview that Moscow authorities had pre-emptively warned Russian media to refrain from reporting. Zelensky spoke in Russian throughout, as he has done in previous speeches when targeting a Russian audience.

Zelensky said Russia`s invasion had caused the destruction of Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine and said the damage was worse than the Russian wars in Chechnya.

“Security guarantees and neutrality, the non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point,” Zelensky said. Zelensky said Ukraine refused to discuss certain other Russian demands, such as the demilitarisation of the country.

Speaking more than a month after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Zelensky said no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals.

He ruled out trying to recapture all Russian-held territory by force, saying it would lead to a third world war, and said he wanted to reach a “compromise” over the eastern Donbas region, held by Russian-backed forces since 2014.