Zelensky ready for ‘compromises’ on Donbass and Crimea

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The Ukrainian leader said he wants dialogue and rejects “ultimatums”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that he is ready for talks on certain “compromises” regarding the breakaway republics in Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Crimea. He made the statement during the second week of Russia’s military campaign against his country.

David Muir asked Zelensky on ABC News on Monday if he was willing to concede to Moscow’s demand of recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, and the two breakaway republics of the Donbass as independent states.

“I’m ready for dialogue. We’re not ready for a capitulation,” Zelensky said.

The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) seceded from Ukraine shortly after the 2014 coup in Kiev. Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia the same year.

Zelensky called both states “pseudo-republics” and repeated Kiev’s long-held position of referring to the DPR and LPR as ‘temporarily occupied territories’.

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“But we can discuss this and find a compromise on how these occupied territories and these republics can exist. What’s important for me is how people who want to be a part of Ukraine will live,” the president said.

“This question is more difficult than simply recognizing [their independence]. This is another ultimatum. And we’re not prepared for ultimatums,” Zelensky added.

Zelensky reiterated that he was ready for direct negotiations with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. “What needs to be done is for Putin to start talking, to start a dialogue,” he said.

Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, insisting that it was defending the DPR and LPR, as well as seeking for Ukraine to declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev said the offensive was completely unjustified and denied claims that it was planning to retake the rebellious republics by force.

Russians and Ukrainians have held three rounds of peace talks in Belarus, finding some common ground on the establishment of safe passages from embattled Ukrainian cities.

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