Zelensky offers to involve U.S., UK, Canada in Normandy talks / Photo from the Office of the President of Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has suggested increasing the number of participants in the Normandy peace talks on Donbas by involving the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

He announced this in an interview for The Financial Times.

"I'm now participating in the process that was designed before my time," said the former comic actor who was elected in 2019 on a promise to end the war. "The Minsk process should be more flexible in this situation. It should serve the purposes of today not of the past."

"There are two options: we can change the Minsk format, adjust it. Or we can use some other format. The speed matters. The pace of this process matters because we are losing people every day," he said.

Read alsoZelensky's office on Putin's answer: Russia can't endlessly raise the stakesThe president called for the Normandy group to be "extended and expanded," saying it was not just up to the U.S. to reboot the grouping but that the UK and Canada should also participate.

The Ukrainian leader said he wanted his own bilateral meeting with Putin, adding "we don't care about the venue, it's about the content." But he would not agree to the Russian leader's demand that he first hold talks with the Donbas "leaders."

Possible Zelensky-Putin meeting

  • In a televised address on April 20, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to hold talks in Donbas.
  • On April 22, 2021, Putin responded to the invitation by suggesting that Zelensky could discuss the Donbas issue with the "leaders" of the two self-proclaimed republics, the "LPR/DPR," adding that Moscow remained open for contact on any other issues.
  • Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korniychuk said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was looking into the offer to broker the talks between Zelensky and Putin.
  • First President of independent Ukraine, Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas Leonid Kravchuk believes the presidents of Ukraine and Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin, should meet on the territory of a neutral country. It could be Finland or Switzerland, Kravchuk suggested.