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30 Mar, 2024 14:12

Kremlin responds to Zelensky’s remarks on talks with Russia

The Ukrainian president has suggested that a return to 1991 borders is no longer a precondition for negotiations
Kremlin responds to Zelensky’s remarks on talks with Russia

Ukraine must take into account the fact that its borders have changed drastically since the beginning of its conflict with Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, commenting on the prospects for peace talks.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky suggested in an interview with CBS News that a return to 1991 borders was no longer a precondition for negotiations with Russia. However, he still insisted that Kiev must regain the territory it lost to Moscow in 2022.

That year, four former Ukrainian territories – Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in a public referendum. They followed the Crimean peninsula, which did the same in 2014 after a Western-backed coup in Kiev.

Following the 2022 referendums, Zelensky banned all talks with the current Russian leadership, focusing instead on a formula for ending the conflict that calls for a complete withdrawal of Moscow’s forces from all of the aforementioned territories. While Russia maintains it is open to talks with Kiev, it has dismissed that idea as “detached from reality.”

Commenting on Zelensky’s remarks, Peskov told RIA Novosti on Saturday that “the geopolitical reality has changed dramatically since the beginning of the special military operation. The borders of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation have changed.”

He further noted that Russia has already incorporated the four former Ukrainian regions, emphasizing that this reality “cannot be ignored.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested that the change in Zelensky’s stance is due to him being “nervous.” “He has an election coming up. Or no election?” she said. The Ukrainian president has previously indicated he has no plans to green light a vote, citing martial law, which has drawn criticism both at home and abroad.

Zelensky’s comments followed a statement by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who said that Kiev might engage with Moscow at some point after a summit in Switzerland later this year, which is widely expected to revolve around Zelensky’s peace formula. Russia has said it does not plan to attend the event, even if officially invited.