Ukrainian President Zelensky ready to make a concession on Ukraine’s neutrality

The question of Ukraine’s neutrality is “studied in depth”, says the Ukrainian president.

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Ihe question of Ukraine’s “neutrality”, one of the central points of negotiations with Russia to end the conflict, is “studied in depth”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Sunday in an interview with the media Russians.

“This point of the negotiations (…) is under discussion, it is studied in depth,” he said in this online interview, broadcast on the Telegram channel of the Ukrainian presidential administration.

“We are ready to accept it,” he continued. “But I don’t want it to be another Budapest memorandum-style paper,” added the president, referring to agreements signed by Russia in 1994 guaranteeing the integrity and security of three former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons inherited from the USSR.

Russian and Ukrainian delegations will meet earlier this week in Turkey for a new round of face-to-face negotiations, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, David Arakhamia, and Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky announced on Sunday.

The Turkish presidency indicated for its part on Sunday evening that these negotiations would be held in Istanbul.

A face-to-face Russian-Ukrainian negotiation session had already taken place on March 10 in Turkey, in Antalya, at the level of foreign ministers and at the invitation of Ankara, without leading to concrete progress.

Since then, the discussions have continued by videoconference, deemed “difficult” by both camps.

“The negotiation process is very difficult,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba said on Friday.

He had denied any “consensus” with Moscow, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had assured a little earlier that Russians and Ukrainians were in agreement on four out of six negotiating points.

Mr. Medinski had estimated on Friday that the talks were stalling on important points.

Mr. Zelensky was speaking in a videoconference interview, which lasted more than an hour and a half, with journalists from the opposition television channel Dojd, the independent site Meduza – whose sites have been blocked in Russia – and the daily Kommersant.

In Russia, the Russian telecoms policeman Roskomnadzor warned in a press release to the Russian media not to publish this interview and indicated that an investigation was opened against those who had participated in the interview.

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