Ukraine is ready to declare neutrality and offer other security guarantees to Russia, including keeping the country nuclear-free if Russia withdraws its troops, president Volodymyr Zelensky has said ahead of peace talks in Turkey.
However, any proposals on neutrality would have to be put to vote for a referendum after troops withdraw, said Mr Zelensky while speaking to Russian journalists on Sunday.
“Security guarantees and neutrality, the non-nuclear status of our state — we’re ready to do that. That’s the most important point… they started the war because of it,” he said, reported the Financial Times.
Roskomnadzor, which regulates communication for Moscow, directed journalists against publishing the interview, warning action against those violating the ban.
The Ukrainian and Russian delegation will meet on Monday for three days and discuss steps to resolve the conflict.
Ukraine’s priorities at the talks would be “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Mr Zelensky, adding that the country is looking for peace “without delay”.
The president said that he understood “it’s not possible to make Russia completely leave the territory” as it could “lead to world war three”.
“That’s why I’m saying this is a compromise. Go back to where this all started and then we’ll try to solve the difficult Donbas issue,” said Mr Zelensky.
“So we meet, we make a deal, and that’s enough — we sign a deal, stamp it, or sign it in blood. That’s enough to start the troop withdrawal process. The troops must be withdrawn, everyone signs the guarantees, and that’s it,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova said that a failure to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty would mean that “brutality, oligarchy and war criminals prevail on our planet”.