Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that he is willing to discuss Ukrainian “neutrality” as part of a potential deal with Russia, The Washington Post reports.
Zelensky said he would be willing to discuss “neutrality” in exchange for security guarantees.
But Zelensky said any such deal would require a referendum, which would require Russian troops to leave.
“A referendum is impossible when there is the presence of troops,” Zelensky said, arguing a vote in an occupied country would be “illegitimate.”
"Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point," he told Russian journalists.
Zelensky also said he wanted to reach a “compromise” over the Donbas region in eastern Ukrainian, much of which has been controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
Ukraine in 2014 voted to drop its “neutral” status and seek NATO membership after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and backed separatists in the Donbas who launched a years-long civil war in the region.
Zelensky acknowledged last week that the country is not going to join NATO since it could escalate tensions in the region.
“It is clear that Ukraine is not a member of NATO; we understand this. ... For years we heard about the apparently open door, but have already also heard that we will not enter there, and these are truths and must be acknowledged,” Zelensky said last week.
Zelensky details situation:
Zelensky in a lengthy chat with Russian reporters discussed the humanitarian crisis in his country.
"All entries and exits from the city of Mariupol are blocked," Zelensky said. "The port is mined. A humanitarian catastrophe inside the city is unequivocal, because it is impossible to go there with food, medicine and water," he said.
"I don't even know who the Russian army has ever treated like this," he added, noting that even Russia’s destruction in Chechnya “cannot be compared.”