President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky flatly refused to fulfill the main demand of Russia on the beginning of the negotiations of Kyiv with the representatives of the so-called self-proclaimed republics as 112 Ukraine reported.
“Today, repeatedly, the president of Russia talked about direct dialogue. Of course, I am ready. I will tell you more: I always talk with them. I am from the south-east. Over 3 million (Donbas citizens, - 112.international) came to us. They are the same citizens of Donbas for me. It is a very important aspect, which I would like to raise,” Zelensky noted.
He expressed outrage that only the representatives of Donbas militants participate in Minsk talks while the opinion of Donbas IDPs is not considered.
“In Minsk, we meet in the trilateral contact group. And there are the representatives (we call them separatists) of these fellows separatists. They are sort of the citizens of occupied Donbas. I have a lot of friends – citizens of occupied Donbas. Intelligent people, who escaped from the bullets, escaped from the explosions; who lost their homes, real estate, relatives. Today they live on the territory controlled by independent Ukraine and I am in dialogue with them. Whether I am ready to contact with them?,’ the president said, adding that he communicates with people from Donbas every day.
He also said that a lot of workers of Kvartal 95, where he worked before the presidency, are citizens of occupied Donbas.
“And when a lot of things had to be agreed with these representatives in Minsk then why only with them? This is my question,” Zelensky said.
According to him, it would be more fairly to involve the citizens from the east of Ukraine in the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk as they were forced to leave their home due to the conflict.
During the Normandy Format summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on the direct dialogue with the militants.
“I would like to underline it is important that the conflicting sides agree among themselves. The direct dialogue. Any conflict in the world was solved without direct negotiations,” Putin said.
As we reported, Putin and Zelensky met in Paris as part of the Normandy Quartet meeting. The peace negotiations, known as the Normandy format, started back in 2014. The last Normandy Four meeting took place in October 2016, the roadmap on establishing peace in Ukraine was elaborated, however, the parties failed to fulfill it.
Later Putin stated he was pleased with bilateral talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Leaders of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin have so far agreed to hold another round of prisoners exchange during the bilateral talk.
As we reported the next Normandy Format Summit will take place in four months.