Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that President Vladimir Putin is the only Russian official willing to meet with him to discuss how to end the war.
Zelensky, addressing an audience via a video link at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said it was becoming more difficult to arrange any talks with Russia because what he said was evidence of Russia’s actions against the occupying civilians.
Russia has denied targeting civilians as part of a “special operation” to reduce Ukraine’s military capabilities.
“The president of the Russian Federation makes all the decisions,” Zelensky said through an interpreter. “If we personally talk about ending this war without him, that decision cannot be made.”
Zelensky said the discovery of genocide in areas occupied by Russian troops before the war, especially outside of Kiev, had made it more difficult to negotiate, and he would rule out any talks with other officials.
“I would not accept any meeting with anyone from the Russian Federation except the president,” he said. “And only when there is an issue (at the table): to stop the war. There is no other basis for any other kind of meeting.”
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have held sporadic talks since Russian troops entered Ukraine in late February, but both sides say talks have stalled.
Zelensky told Ukrainian television last week that it was impossible to stop the war without some form of diplomacy.
In his remarks to an audience in Davos, Zelensky added that the war had come at a huge humanitarian cost to the Ukrainians. He says the country’s forces are gaining ground, especially near the second city of Kharkiv, but “the bloodiest situation remains in Donbass, where we are losing many people.”
He added that any idea of forcibly reclaiming the Crimean peninsula, which was occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014, would cause thousands of casualties.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)