Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday he would be open to negotiations with Russia, but only direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking by video link to the World Economic Forum, Zelenskyy said there is a potential for finding a diplomatic way out of the conflict if Putin “understands reality.”
Zelenskyy added that a first step toward talks with Russia would be for Russian forces to withdraw back to the lines that were in place before Russia launched its invasion in late February.
There has been no sign of movement toward a negotiated end to the conflict in recent weeks with both sides accusing the other of not being willing to engage in talks.
Zelenskyy also used part of his address to express his condolences to the family members of those killed Tuesday in a mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school.
“As far as I know, 21 people were killed, including 19 children. This is terrible, to have victims of shooters in peaceful time,” he said.
The key to peace
As Russian forces bombarded eastern Ukraine, including Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak pushed foreign governments to take action to pressure Russia to end its fighting in Ukraine.
“Today, the future of Europe is not formed in Brussels or Davos. It is formed in the trenches near Severodonetsk and Bakhmut. The duration of this war depends on the speed of imposing energy sanctions and weapons supply. Want to end the war? The key to peace…