Zelensky Suggests New Talks, on One Condition

Ukraine leader says Russia must not harm troops who surrendered at Mariupol
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2022 6:50 AM CDT
Zelensky Suggests New Talks, on One Condition
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, attend the funeral of Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine's first president, in Kyiv on May 17. Kravchuk led Ukraine to independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as its first president.   (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have not met for about a month, but Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky says he's open to restarting talks. “Under what format I don’t know—with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at the presidential level,” he said in a TV interview, per the Guardian. “But the war will be bloody, there will be fighting, and [it] will only definitively end through diplomacy." He spoke after the southern port city of Mariupol fell to Russia, giving Moscow its biggest victory yet, and Zelensky put a related condition on the renewal of talks—soldiers who surrendered in Mariupol must not be harmed.

“The most important thing for me is to save the maximum number of people and soldiers,” he said. Moscow has not immediately replied to the suggestion of new talks. Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov blamed Ukraine for the breakdown in negotiations, reports the BBC. Zelensky laid out the issue in the simplest of terms: "We want everything to return [to as it was before] but Russia does not want that.” By taking control of Mariupol, Russia now has a land corridor from the eastern Donbas region to Crimea, notes the Guardian. With its troops no longer focused on Mariupol, Russia has since intensified its attacks in Luhansk, part of the Donbas region. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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