European Interest

President of Ukraine: If Russia wants peace, it must withdraw its troops from our land

Office of the President of Ukraine

Given all the crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, Ukrainian society is not ready for dialogue with the Russian side. However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is ready to continue negotiations to end the war, liberate the occupied territories and save lives. This was stated by the President in an interview with the Porta a Porta project of the Italian TV channel Rai 1.

According to President Zelenskyy, every day in Ukraine certain towns are liberated from the occupiers, and traces of tormenting, torture and executions of civilians by the Russian military are found there. This causes Ukrainian citizens to reject the issue of ending the war through negotiations.

“However, as President, I am ready to talk to Putin, but only to him. Without any intermediaries. And on the terms of dialogue, not on the terms of ultimatum,” he said.

Commenting on the words of some European leaders that it is necessary to look for approaches to Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian Head of State stressed that the search for such ways should not be at the cost of Ukrainian blood, especially when the Russian president does not show a desire to end the war.

“We have been looking for them for many years, and today the corpses of our people are on these paths. And I am not ready to find such bloody paths to Putin,” the Head of State said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that when people seek to resolve conflicts, they look for ways to dialogue. However, given what Russia has done, such a conversation is no longer possible.

“That is why there must be a pragmatic dialogue today. And Russia’s desire is needed. Because it will be late. Another such bloody case as it was in Bucha, Borodyanka or what is happening in Mariupol – and people will not have patience anymore. Because people do not want to forgive anything,” the President said.

Apartment block in Borodianka after Russian shelling, April 2022 [CC BY 4.0]

At the same time, he noted that if there is even the slightest chance for negotiations, it should be used.

“We understand that peace comes after every war, and even when there is a one percent chance of ending the war through dialogue and resolving a military conflict, we need to cling to it,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Asked what kind of peace Ukraine wants, the President said: “Ordinary things. Respect for sovereignty. Respect for territorial integrity. Respect for traditions, people, language. Just respect for the people, society and the independence of our state.”

“All these ordinary, normal things that the Russian Federation has violated. They need to be restored. What is restoration? Withdraw your troops from our land. There are no our troops on the territory of the Russian Federation. Withdraw your troops, de-occupy our homes, our villages,” he added.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy also stressed that there can be no compromise on Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.

“However, in the negotiations we are ready to say – at least get out of the territory you occupied starting from the 24th (February 24, 2022 – ed.). Yes, in some of our temporarily occupied territories, you unfortunately continue to stay. But this is the first clear step to talk about something. Let’s do it,” the President said.

However, according to him, the Russian side does not respond to these proposals.

In addition, Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his conviction that dialogue is impossible today without the tough and strong position of foreign partners on Russia’s actions, as well as without the defensive support for Ukraine.

“Everyone is united in the opinion that it is necessary to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine. At least that’s what European leaders, the United States, Canada, Britain, and so on, tell me. I am convinced that when it comes to clear values, we are all united. But without a strong real army, Ukraine will not be strong at the negotiating table with Russia. And we need this strength. It is very important for us,” the President stated.

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