A weak opening signal? As the war in Ukraine entered its thirteenth day on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told himself “ready for a dialogue” with Russia, during a 20-minute interview with the American channel ABC News. In this interview, which was remotely translated from Ukrainian to English, the Ukrainian leader was asked about Russia’s demands to end the war.
Namely, according to the ABC journalist, Ukraine’s abandonment of its desire to integrate NATO; the recognition of Crimea as an integral part of Russia and the recognition of the independence of the two self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, Donetsk and Lugansk. “Are you ready to accept these three conditions? What is your message for Putin right now? Ukrainian leader journalist David Muir asked, after listing those demands. “First I’m ready for a dialogue”replied Zelensky, before adding: “We’re not ready to surrender, because it’s not me. These are the people who chose me.”
“Let Putin engage in dialogue”
As for the Donbass areas under pro-Russian control since 2014, “pseudo-republics”Volodymyr Zelensky assured he could “discuss and find a compromise” with Russia “on the way these areas will live”. “What is important to me is to know how the inhabitants of these areas who want to be part of Ukraine will live”, he assured during the interview. A position he also takes on Crimea.
Zelensky criticizes a “ultimatum” posed by Russia. “We are not ready for ultimatums”, said the Ukrainian leader. Before proceeding: “What needs to happen is for President Putin to talk, to engage in dialogue, instead of living in an information bubble without oxygen. I think he’s there. He’s in that bubble. He’s getting this information and we don’t know if it’s realistic.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, three rounds of negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian delegations have been held in Belarus. For example, the opening of humanitarian corridors was discussed by both sides on Sunday. Thus, Russia would have accepted a temporary ceasefire since Monday to allow the evacuation of civilians, Russia’s defense ministry said, quoted by the Interfax agency. For its part, Kiev has accused Moscow of thwarting civilian evacuation operations.
“NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine”
The Russian president, for his part, continues to ask: “four demands” to Kiev and to the international community: thedenazification” of the Ukrainian power, theneutralization” of the country, the recognition of Russian Crimea and the independence of Donbass. Until Zelensky’s recent comments to ABC, these conditions were considered unacceptable by the Ukrainian authorities. On Sunday, following a telephone exchange between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Poutine, the Elysée Palace also reported that the Russian president confirmed that “its objectives would be achieved by negotiation or by war.”
As for NATO, a sticking point between Moscow and the West, the Ukrainian president told ABC he had “chilled” about the possibility of his country joining the organisation, “after realizing that NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine”† According to him, “The Alliance fears controversy and confrontation with Russia”† “I never wanted to be a country that begs for something on its kneeshe added. And we won’t be that country and I don’t want to be that president.”