Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insists local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions should be held only under Ukrainian laws after the end of the Russian occupation of Donbas.
"Elections [in Ukraine] shall be held under Ukrainian laws. And the Ukrainian laws rule out the presence of [other countries'] armed forces. All Ukrainian parties, observers, journalists, the OSCE, the Central Election Commission should have access [to the areas where local elections are held]. If there are armed groups, no party will go there," he said in an interview to Western media outlets, according to the Ukrayinska Pravda online newspaper.
Regarding the control of the border with Russia, Zelensky said the issue would be the most difficult one "if we ever get to discuss it."
"I tell them honestly: I disagree with how this issue was resolved in Minsk. Under the Minsk deal, elections are held first, to be followed by control over the border," he said.
Zelensky emphasized the Ukrainians' position is the following: Ukraine should take control of the border first, and then the elections should be held, but these are not the Minsk agreements. "Unfortunately, we have contradictions there. And, of course, we need to handle them."
When asked what he would do if the negotiations failed, the president said: "In any case, I'm not going to start the war in Donbas."
According to him, "there are many hotheads" who call for "taking away" Donbas without thinking about the price.
"I think such people are controlled by former leaders. And, frankly, it surprises me. And not only me – ask politicians abroad. Everyone is surprised that such people are supported and propelled, saying: this is our country, we will get it tomorrow," Zelensky said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, a summit of the leaders of Ukraine, Germany, France and the Russian Federation is scheduled for December 9; it will be hosted by Paris.