March 28th, 2022
Ukraine may be on track to declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia “without delay,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday, ahead of another day of negotiations to the weeks-long Russian invasion of his country.
Ukraine’s priority, Zelensky also said, is continuing to ensure sovereignty and “territorial integrity,” in the face of a Russian government seeking to potentially divide up the nation.
Russia continues to demand that Ukraine drop aspirations of joining NATO, which Moscow sees as a threat to its own standing. Zelensky says the question of maintaining neutrality, which would keep Ukraine out of NATO, should be put to a vote by Ukrainians following a Russian withdrawal.
In an interview that, according to the Associated Press, has been banned from being published in Russia, Zelensky said, “We must come to an agreement with the president of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he needs to get out of there on his own feet … and come to meet me.”
Zelensky also emphasized Ukraine’s need for security guarantees of its own.
Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that President Vladimir Putin and Zelensky could meet, but only after key tenets of a potential deal are worked out.
“The meeting is necessary once we have clarity regarding solutions on all key issue,” he said.
Talks between the neighboring countries have been going on for days now, failing to yield a deal that could end the more than month-old war.
In his nightly video address to his people, Zelensky told Ukrainians that he is seeking peace “without delay” in talks that are scheduled to begin in Istanbul, Turkey.
Moscow says its focus is now on take control of Ukraine’s entire eastern Donbas region, which has been partially controlled by Russia-backed separatists since 2014. A Russian military official said Friday that troops were being redirected to the east from other parts of the country, according to the Associated Press.