Ukraine ready to discuss neutrality, Zelensky says
Accusing the West of leaving Ukraine to face Moscow alone, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday he was not afraid to negotiate an end to the Russian “invasion,” but would need security guarantees to do so.
Speaking in the early hours of the morning from Kiev, Zelensky said he had reached out to “partners” in the West to tell them that Ukraine’s fate was at stake.
“I asked them – are you with us?” Zelensky said. “They answered that they are with us, but they don’t want to take us into the alliance. I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe, if Ukraine will be in NATO, I’ve asked them directly – all are afraid and did not respond.”
“We were left by ourselves. Who is ready to go to war for us? Honestly, I don’t see anybody. Who is ready to give Ukraine guarantees of NATO membership? Honestly, everybody is afraid,” the president added.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Thursday, with President Vladimir Putin declaring a special military operation to “demilitarize and denazify” the country. Moscow has since told Kiev that it would consider negotiating with the Zelensky government if it agrees to discuss neutral status for the country, among other things.
In an address on Friday, Zelensky said he is open to talking about the possibility of a neutral status for Ukraine, but insisted that his country needs third-party guarantees.
“We are not not afraid of Russia, we are not afraid to talk with Russia, talk about everything: security guarantees for our country and a neutral status. But we are not in NATO now – what security guarantees will we have? Which countries will give them?” he said, before adding that there should be talks to bring an end to the Russian military offensive.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that “neutral status and rejection of hosting [offensive] weapons systems” are Putin’s “red lines” for Ukraine and that the ball was now in Kiev's court.