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Zelensky says Ukraine still open to talks with Russia

Illustrative: In this image released by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office on May 1, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives for his meeting the day before with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Illustrative: In this image released by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office on May 1, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives for his meeting the day before with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he is still open to negotiations with Russia, but only if Moscow withdraws its forces to their pre-invasion positions.

Zelensky tells a meeting at London’s Chatham House think-tank that “regaining the situation as of the 23rd of February” — the day before the invasion — is a prerequisite for talks.

He says “in that situation we will be able to start discussing things normally,” and Ukraine could use “diplomatic channels” to regain its territory.

The British government, a key ally of Ukraine, has said Russia must be driven from all of Ukraine, including Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Despite Russia’s intensified attack on Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Zelensky says there is still space for diplomacy. He says “not all the bridges are yet destroyed,” figuratively speaking.

Asked whether Russia would soon take full control of the besieged port city of Mariupol, Zelenskyy says: “Mariupol will never fall. I’m not talking about heroism or anything … There is nothing there to fall apart. It is already devastated.”

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