No deal without Russian withdrawal: Zelenskyy

AP , Wednesday 4 May 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country could not accept a deal with Moscow that would allow Russian troops to remain in occupied territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, applauds as a screen shows Britain s Prime Minister Boris Johnson via videolink, during a session at Ukraine s parliament, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. AP

Speaking Wednesday to participants in the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces had halted the Russian offensive in what he described as the first stage of the conflict. In the second stage, he said, Ukraine would expel Russian troops from its territory and in the third, would move to fully restore its territorial integrity.

Zelenskyy said he would not accept a cease-fire deal that would allow Russian forces to remain in their current positions? insisting that ``we will not accept a frozen conflict'' ? but gave no further details. He warned that Ukraine would be drawn into a ``diplomatic quagmire'' like the peace agreement for eastern Ukraine that was brokered by France and Germany in 2015.

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and cast its support behind a separatist rebellion in Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland called the Donbas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has named Ukraine's recognition of the Russian sovereignty over Crimea and its acknowledgment of the separatist regions' independence as key conditions for halting hostilities.

Zelenskyy emphasized that Putin must agree to meet him to negotiate any deal to end the fighting.

He said it was important to continue peace talks, but noted that ``until the Russian president signs it or makes an official statement I don't see the point in such agreements.''

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