Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is ready for direct negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin to return Ukrainian political prisoners from Russia.
"Nobody will ever forget a single person who is held in captivity, behind bars, in the territory of the Russian Federation or in Crimea, or in the territory temporarily occupied by 'DPR'/'LPR' [the self-proclaimed 'Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics']. So far, we have two swap lists. People from Crimea are included in the list, about which we should talk only with Russia. The second list includes people who are on the territory of the 'DPR'/'LPR.' They are also our people. This issue is also being discussed," he said during a press marathon on October 10, 2019, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
Zelensky said there is a third list, which includes people, whose captivity has not been confirmed by the self-proclaimed "republics," although Ukraine has information that its citizens are being held there.
"We are ready on the first two lists, we have them, and we are ready [to return Ukrainians] even tomorrow. To be honest, the Russian side declares we will not get to this issue without the Normandy format," he said.
Zelensky also added some of these lists had already been discussed in the Minsk format.
"But the decision, I think, will be [made] during the meeting in the Normandy format. If it is postponed, we will find other formats for how to return our people. One of them is the Minsk process, while another one, which brought the results, is my direct negotiations with the president of the Russian Federation. I'm ready for these direct talks to return our people or swap them," Zelensky added.