Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed willingness to discuss Russia’s demands for Kyiv to recognize annexed Crimea and the breakaway pro-Moscow territories in an interview with ABC News published Tuesday.
“I think that items regarding temporarily occupied territories and pseudo-republics not recognized by anyone but Russia, we can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on,” Zelenskiy said.
The Kremlin said Monday that it was ready to stop its deadly military campaign “in a moment” if Ukraine met its demands to recognize Crimea as a Russian region and the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions as independent republics.
“What’s important to me is how the people in those territories who want to be part of Ukraine are going to live,” Zelenskiy told ABC News.
But he refused to give in to ultimatums which Russia’s negotiating team has put forward in three rounds of dialogue that have so far failed to achieve a ceasefire.
“The question is more difficult than simply acknowledging them. This is another ultimatum and we’re not prepared for ultimatums,” Zelensky said.
“I’m ready for dialogue, we’re not ready for capitulation.”
The Kremlin also said Monday that it wants Kyiv to cease military action and enshrine neutrality in its constitution, a proposal that Zelenskiy also appeared open to.
“I have cooled over the issue a long time ago after we understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.
The Ukrainian leader reiterated his calls for Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate a ceasefire with him directly, calls the Kremlin has so far rejected.
“What needs to be done is for President Putin to start talking, start dialogue instead of living in an information bubble without oxygen.”