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20 May, 2019 18:06

Putin will laud Zelensky if he ends war & mends ties with Russia – Kremlin

Putin will laud Zelensky if he ends war & mends ties with Russia – Kremlin

Vladimir Putin will send formal greetings to Volodymyr Zelensky but not until the new Ukrainian President succeeds in ending the war in Donbass and repairing ties with Russia, the Kremlin said.

Until “success in solving the domestic conflict in Eastern Ukraine” is achieved and Russia-Ukraine relations are normalized, congratulating Zelensky makes little sense, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Zelensky, formerly a well-known comedian and television star, was sworn in on Monday in Kiev. During his inaugural speech to Ukrainian lawmakers, he promised to attempt to reclaim “lost territories,” namely Crimea and the east of the country. “Our first objective will be to achieve a ceasefire in Donbass,” he said, referring to the eastern industrial region controlled by rebels.

Commenting on Zelensky’s appeal, Peskov said that discussing Crimea’s status is out of question, calling it “one of Russia’s regions.” At the same time, there could be a breakthrough in Donbass. “This is a domestic [policy] issue of Ukraine which can and must be solved by the President on the basis of… [the] Minsk agreements.”

The new president, who himself comes from a Russian-speaking family, said that he will be determined to make “difficult decisions” if they help achieve peace – but would never give up Ukrainian territory.

Nevertheless, Zelensky has given few details of his reconciliation policy since winning the 2019 presidential election by a landslide in April. He has left it to a team of advisers, but has been saying at times that he was ready “to do everything” to end the war in the east.

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