'Only a concrete result can be trusted' - Ukraine president on Russian negotiations

Business Insider US
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Ukraine is willing to continue negotiations with Russia.
  • But the president warned that Ukrainians will settle for no less than "real security" guarantees.
  • "Ukrainians have already learned...that only a concrete result can be trusted," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday's negotiations with Russia offered "positive signals" amid the war, but highlighted the ongoing atrocities throughout Ukraine, saying such signals "do not silence the explosion of Russian shells."

Zelenskyy made the comments in a new speech posted to his website and social media accounts Tuesday. As the 34th day of Russia's full-scale invasion came to a close, the Ukrainian president characterized his country's defense as "succesfull."

Citing reports that the Russian military announced Tuesday that they would "reduce hostilities" near Kyiv and Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said it was Ukrainian defense forces that forced Russian troops to retreat, and not "as if the Russian aviation simply decided to fly less, and the Russian military vehicles — to drive less."

Still, Zelenskyy said, Ukrainians should not lose vigilance, nor reduce defense efforts, especially given Russia's vast trove of military equipment and potential troops. Zelenskyy emphasized that the Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities continues, as do missiles and airstrikes.

He also highlighted the besieged city of Mariupol, whose residents have been blocked from food, water, and gas for weeks. 

"The situation has not become easier," Zelenskyy said. "The scale of the challenges has not diminished."

After weeks of little progress, Tuesday's peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian representatives in Istanbul, Turkey, offered a semblance of hope. Ukraine offered to never join NATO and remain military neutral while Russia said it would scale back assaults in Kyiv and Chernihiv.

But despite the breakthrough, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian survival cannot rely on Russian promises alone.

"Of course, we see all the risks," he said. "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," Zelenskyy added. "Ukrainians have already learned 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."

The president said Ukraine is willing to continue negotiating but expects to be assured of "real security" for the Ukrainian people and sovereignty.

"There can be no compromise on sovereignty and our territorial integrity," he said. "And there will not be any."

Zelenskyy also pledged that any major decisions would be decided by the people of Ukraine. He has previously said such questions would be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum. 

In addition to his comments on negotiations, Zelenskyy said the question of lifting international sanctions against Russia should not even be considered until the war is over and Ukraine "gets back what's ours."

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