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24 Feb, 2022 17:36

Ukrainian MPs call on Zelensky to start talks with Putin

A group of parliamentarians insists all diplomatic options should be explored to stop the bloodshed
Ukrainian MPs call on Zelensky to start talks with Putin

A group of Ukrainian MPs have called on their president to start negotiations with Moscow. Any further escalation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine might turn into a “real catastrophe” for all sides that would see “no winners,” seven MPs said in an open letter to Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

“Millions of our fellow citizens strive for a peaceful … life,” said the group, led by Vadim Novinsky – a Ukrainian billionaire and one of the co-leaders of the Opposition Bloc – an association of more than a dozen political parties. The MPs have said they “insist on [Zelensky] using all options” to protect human life and de-escalate the situation.

The lawmakers called on their leader to start talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and “reach an agreement” on “stopping the bloodshed.” They urged Ukraine’s parliament to form a delegation to hold “strategic consultations” with the Russian parliament.

“We believe that a new compromise is still possible,” the MPs have said, adding that a diplomatic option should still be explored even if it has “one chance in a hundred” to be successful. The MPs have not outlined any specific ideas for a potential agreement with Russia.

Novinsky is said to be close to Viktor Medvedchuk, another Ukrainian MP and one of the leaders of the Opposition Platform – For Life party. Medvedchuk is known for his anti-NATO views and for siding with Moscow when Crimea rejoined Russia back in 2014.

Medvedchuk met with senior Russian officials on various occasions long after relations between Moscow and Kiev soured over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In May 2021, he was accused of state treason. The politician, who is currently under house arrest, has claimed that all the charges against him are politically motivated.

Early on Thursday, Putin announced a “special operation” in Ukraine, with the aim of “securing the peace” in the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the Donbass region, which were officially recognized by Russia earlier this week.

Later, Moscow said it was ready to discuss terms of surrender with Kiev. Putin was particularly willing to talk to Zelensky about obtaining a guarantee of Ukraine’s neutral status and a promise of no weapons being deployed on its territory. The Ukrainian president has so far not responded to Russia’s proposal or the MPs’ letter.