Zelenskyy says positive signs coming from talks

But the Ukrainian president made it clear he thinks Russia cannot be trusted

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in one of his video messages from Kyiv. Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that the talks with Russian negotiators have had some positive signs but warned that Moscow could not be trusted.

Russia announced after Tuesday’s talks between the delegations in Istanbul, Turkey, that it would significantly reduce military operations near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv.

The US and others earlier expressed scepticism about Russia’s announcement.

“Yes, we can say that the signals we hear from the talks are positive, but these signals can’t silence the explosions of Russian shells," Mr Zelenskyy in a video address on Tuesday evening.

"Of course, we are seeing all of the risks. Of course, we are not seeing grounds to trust the words coming from representatives of the country that continues fighting to destroy us.”

He said Ukrainian troops’ “courageous and effective actions” forced Russia to reduce its action around Kyiv and Chernihiv.

Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine would continue the negotiation process but stressed his mistrust in the Kremlin.

“Of course, Ukraine supports the talks and will continue the negotiation process to the extent required," he said. "We are counting on the result.

"We must have real security for us, for our country, sovereignty and our people. Russian troops must leave occupied territories.

"Sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be guaranteed. There can’t be and there won’t be any compromises on sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Of the sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Mr Zelenskyy said: “Countries should not assume that certain talks will affect the lifting of sanctions from Russia.

"The issue of sanctions can’t be resolved until the war ends, until we bring back everything belonging to us and until we restore justice.

"On the contrary, sanctions must get stronger weekly and they must be of high quality.”

“I’m sure you have seen the news today that the Russian Defence Ministry allegedly decided to ‘cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv’.

"Well, we can say the same about Chornobaivka, as if Russian aviation decided to fly less and Russian hardware decided to drive less.

“It’s their [Ukrainian troops defending Kyiv] courageous and effective actions that have forced the enemy to pull back in this direction, but we shouldn’t let our guard down.

"The situation hasn’t become easier. The scale of challenges hasn’t narrowed.

"The Russian Army still has great potential to continue attacks against our country. They still have a lot of hardware and they are not running out of absolutely rightless people that they can send to the war.”

In a post to accompany his video on Instagram, Mr Zelenskyy wrote: "Of course, we see no reason to trust the words of certain representatives of a state that continues to fight for our destruction. Ukrainians are not naive people.

"Ukrainians have already learnt during these 34 days of invasion and over the past eight years of the war in Donbas that only a concrete result can be trusted."

Updated: March 29, 2022, 11:20 PM