During a 90-minute interview with independent Russian news outlets, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that he is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status to end the war with Russia. The Russian government has banned the viewing and distribution of the interview through their media outlets at this point in time, meaning Mr Zelensky has had to use alternate methods to spread the footage including through his own Telegram channel.
Through the interview he indicated that he was open to “neutrality”, as well as “compromise” regarding the Donbas region of Ukraine. He expanded – “security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point.” He also stressed the necessity for Ukraine’s security to be ensured by third parties, and a referendum would be required to approve the states neutrality.
He also explained that Ukraine had no intentions to recapture all Russian-occupied territories by force, stating it would most likely start “World War 3”. If neutrality was constructed as a condition of peace, it would be viewed as a significant concession to Russia, as Ukraine would ditch its ambition to join NATO.
During the interview he also said that he doesn’t take “demilitarisation” and “denazification” as valid issues for the ongoing negotiations with Russia. He is focused on dealing with the issue of neutrality and non-nuclear status, seeing them as more pressing issues. However, it is stipulated that if an agreement is signed, Russian troops would have to withdraw first. Post this there would be a referendum as well as a long political process which could take up to a year, amending the constitution in that time. This stance could undermine any chances for a soon negotiated solution in Ukraine.