Zhelensky says Ukraine is ready to discuss maintaining neutrality in Russia’s peace agreement

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zhelensky addresses participants in the Doha Forum via video link, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, March 26, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Guide by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / REUTERS

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LVV, Ukraine, March 27 (Reuters) – Ukraine is ready to discuss adopting a neutral position as part of a peace deal with Russia, but such an agreement must be guaranteed by a third party and put to a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky has said. In the comments aired on Sunday.

Zelenskiy spoke to Russian journalists in a 90-minute video call, in an interview in which Moscow officials warned the Russian media in advance to refrain from reporting. Zelenskiy spoke in Russian throughout, as he had done in previous speeches when targeting Russian audiences.

Zelenskiy said the Russian invasion had destroyed Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine, adding that the damage was worse than the Russian wars in Chechnya.

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“Security guarantees and neutrality, our state’s non-nuclear status. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important thing,” Zhelensky said. read more

Zhelensky said Ukraine had refused to discuss some other Russian demands, such as the militarization of the country.

Speaking more than a month after Russia’s occupation of Ukraine on February 24, Zhelensky said no peace agreement was possible without a ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops.

Claiming that it would lead to World War III, he rejected attempts to forcibly retake all Russian-held territories and sought a “compromise” on the eastern Donbass region, which had been occupied by Russian-backed forces since 2014.

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Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” aimed at militarizing its neighbors in Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies call this an excuse for an unprovoked invasion.

‘Humanitarian disaster’

Zhelensky observed the fate of the eastern port city of Mariupol, which had been besieged for weeks. As a city with a population of 400,000 at one time, it has long been the subject of Russian bombing.

“All entrances and exits from the city of Mariupol are blocked,” Zhelensky said. “The port has been cut off. A humanitarian catastrophe within the city is unquestionable because food, medicine and water cannot get there,” he said.

“I do not know who the Russian army carried out so far,” he said, adding that the scale of the destruction in Chechnya was “incomparable” compared to the Russian wars.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine traded for failing to open humanitarian corridors.

Zhelensky backed down from Moscow’s accusations that Ukraine was blocking the rights of Russian speakers, claiming that Russia’s invasion had destroyed Russian-speaking cities “from the face of the earth.”

He also dismissed Russia’s allegations that Ukraine had nuclear or chemical weapons “as a joke.”

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Report by Powell Polytechnic; Written by Matthias Williams, editing by William McLean and Pravin Sir

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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