Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine looking at neutrality before next conflict talks

Kremlin said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt to help end the conflict

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. AP
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy said on Sunday that a Russian demand for the country's neutrality — a key issue for Moscow at conflict negotiations — was being closely looked at by Kyiv's negotiators.

"This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied," Mr Zelenskyy told independent Russian news outlets.

The Kremlin this month said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt to help end Russia's invasion.

Ukraine rejected the proposal, saying only Kyiv could design a system that would be acceptable to Ukrainians.

Mr Zelenskyy accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of dragging out negotiations and prolonging the conflict.

"We have to come to an agreement with the President of the Russian Federation," he said. "But to reach an agreement, he has to get up from where he is and come and meet me."

Russian regulator Roskomnadzor warned media outlets against broadcasting the interview with Mr Zelenskyy, saying they could be subject to investigation and action could be taken against them.

Negotiations to end more than a month of fighting in Ukraine have focused on disarmament and security guarantees, and Kyiv staying out of Nato.

The two sides are due to meet for a second round of direct talks next week in Turkey.

Ukraine said that round would take place in Turkey from Monday to Wednesday, just over one month into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, David Arakhamia, a Ukraine negotiator and politician, wrote on Facebook.

Russia's lead negotiator in the conflict, Vladimir Medinsky, confirmed the talks with Ukraine, but gave a slightly different time frame, saying they would start on Tuesday and end on Wednesday.

Russia and Ukraine failed to make a breakthrough in their first top-level talks, on March 10 in Antalya, since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The two sides have held regular talks by video conference but offered scant hopes for any breakthroughs with both sides describing efforts as difficult.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan said this week that Russia and Ukraine appeared to have reached an understanding on four out of six negotiating points.

They were Ukraine staying out of Nato, the use of Russian language in Ukraine, disarmament and security guarantees.

But Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday that there was "no consensus" on key points with Russia.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 4:06 AM