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IPresident Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday insisted that a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “in any format” is needed to end the war in Ukraine.
“I believe that without this meeting it is impossible to fully understand what they are ready for in order to stop the war,” Zelensky said in an interview with the Ukraine regional media outlet Suspilne.
Zelensky has previously said that “without negotiations we cannot end the war” and called for a summit with Putin, but his comments on Monday were particularly insistent.
Several session of Ukraine-Russia talks has taken place via videoconferencing since the start of the Russian military action in Ukraine on February 24.
Zelensky has sought a meeting with Putin for nearly a year, but the Russian leader has refused and instead demanded the Ukrainian president resolve his country’s “civil war” with separatist territories linked to Moscow.
Since Russian troops poured into Ukraine last month, Zelensky has issued increasingly urgent calls for talks to end the fighting.
Last week he called for a meeting quickly so that Russia could “limit the losses caused by its mistakes”.
Russia’s assault on Ukraine has killed thousands and driven almost a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes.
Germany predicted the refugee number could reach as high as 10 million in coming weeks.
“I am ready at a meeting with the president of Russia to raise the issue of occupied territories, but I am certain that a solution will not come at this meeting,” Zelensky said in his interview.
He said several conditions would need to be met before such matters could be dealt with, namely, a cease-fire, the withdrawal of troops and security guarantees.
“If people are trying to stop a war, there is a cease-fire and troops are withdrawn. The presidents meet, reach an agreement on withdrawing troops and there are security guarantees of one sort or another,” he said.