Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plans to discuss the end of the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territories, in particular Crimea, if he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This was announced by Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in an interview for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Ukrainian Service.

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This was his comment on statements made by the Kremlin that Putin was ready to talk only about bilateral relations between Ukraine and Russia.

"Russian aggression against Ukraine is, by definition, bilateral relations. Therefore, here is the art of diplomatic interpretation, which we can endlessly make use of," Kuleba said. 

"But we understand that the main purpose of the conversation between President Zelensky and President Putin is to end the war in Ukraine, to end the occupation of our territories. What is more, I assure you, the President of Ukraine means both Donbas and Crimea when he speaks of the end of the occupation of the territories," he added.

Zelensky's offer to meet with Putin: Background

  • 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.
  • On April 26, 2021, Zelensky instructed Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak to arrange a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It seems to me everything leads to the fact this meeting will take place," he said.
  • Speaking in an interview for the Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Zelensky said he would definitely meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and the Vatican City could be a venue for this meeting. Zelensky also suggested his direct negotiations with Putin could prevent the escalation of Russia's aggressive actions.
  • On April 29, 2021, la Repubblica, referring to Vatican diplomat, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, reported that Pope Francis did not know anything about a planned Zelensky-Putin meeting in the Vatican City, but said he was ready to act as a mediator.