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Zelensky says ready to negotiate neutrality for peace

Ukrainian President says referendum required before agreeing to any peace deal with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his government was ready to negotiate the adoption of a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia.

Foreign media outlets BBC and Aljazeera reported that in an interview with independent Russian journalists, Volodymyr Zelensky said that a referendum would need to be called in Ukraine before agreeing to such a deal. The development comes as talks between Russian and Ukraine are scheduled to resume this week in Turkey.

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In a video call, the Ukrainian President said that Ukraine was willing to give “security guarantees and neutrality, [along with] non-nuclear status of our state”.

However, Zelensky said that any treaty would require an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He added that effective security guarantees would be required ensuring that Ukraine does not come under attack.

Later that day, in a video address to his nation, Zelensky said that his country wanted peace “without delay”.

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Russian President Putin has demanded a neutral Ukraine which ensures that it would not become a part of the NATO military alliance. Following Ukraine’s independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the former has increasingly leaned towards the West. Putin believes that the fall of the Soviet Union is the “disintegration of historical Russia” and claims that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.

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