Ukraine is not willing to negotiate directly with the Donbas separatists, but will continue to operate in the Minsk format, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a press conference after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.
Macron’s interpreter had said on his behalf: “Zelensky has given signs from his side that he is willing to enter a ceasefire, and is open to dialog with the separatists”.
The Ukrainian president denied this.
“There has been a small mistake here. We are not open to dialog with the separatists, which is how I heard the interpretation. We are prepared to operate in the Minsk format. We are prepared to continue relations in the Minsk format. We are prepared to cease fire,” he stressed.
Zelensky also asked Ukraine’s international partners to maintain the diplomatic and sanction pressure on Russia. “Europe cannot feel safe while Russia is pretending that international law simply does not exist,” he remarked.
“No one wants Ukraine to become the powder keg where Crimea and the Donbas are the fuse,” the president added.
He said that his primary tasks are to put an end to the war and to return the annexed Ukrainian territories.
“But I understand that it is impossible to make peace through military means. The price will be too high, thousands of human lives. The only key for peace is diplomatic and sanction pressure. And so I ask that you maintain it. And I really hope that France’s current presidency of the Group of Seven will facilitate this matter,” Zelensky said.
Previously it was learned that Volodymyr Zelensky does not intend to disclose the roadmap for the Minsk talks on 19 June, when the next negotiations in the Minsk format will take place.
The first Minsk talks with an updated Ukrainian group were held at the start of June. Leonid Kuchma, who leads the Ukrainian delegation, reportedly proposed that Ukraine should “not return fire” and also lift the economic blockade on the Donbas. Both of his suggestions were criticized by Ukrainian politicians.