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Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Is Willing to Be ‘Neutral,’ But Putin Wants to Divide Nation

Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Is Willing to Be ‘Neutral,’ But Putin Wants to Divide Nation

Ukraine is willing to become neutral and compromise over the status of the eastern Donbas region as part of a peace deal, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday, even as another top Ukrainian official accused Russian dictator Vladimir Putin of aiming to carve the country in two. In a call with Putin on Sunday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to hold talks this week in Istanbul and called for a ceasefire and better humanitarian conditions, his office said. Ukrainian and Russian negotiators confirmed that in-person talks would take place.

Zelenskyy took his message directly to Russian journalists in a video call that the Kremlin pre-emptively warned Russian media not to report, saying any agreement must be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum.

[President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
After more than four weeks of conflict, Russia has failed to seize any major Ukrainian city and signaled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions to focus on securing the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army for the past eight years. The invasion has devastated several Ukrainian cities, caused a major humanitarian crisis, and displaced an estimated 10 million people, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population.

Zelenskyy demanded in a late-night television address on Saturday that Western nations hand over military hardware that was “gathering dust” in stockpiles, saying his nation needed just 1% of NATO’s aircraft and 1% of its tanks

 

Top American officials also sought on Sunday to clarify that the United States does not have a policy of regime change in Russia after President Joe Biden said at the end of a speech in Poland on Saturday that Putin “cannot remain in power”. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Biden had simply meant Putin could not be “empowered to wage war” against Ukraine or anywhere else.

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