“A group of Ukrainians and Russian representatives are discussing certain issues. They began talking about something, and not just throwing out ultimatums,” Zelensky said on Saturday, during a press conference with foreign media.
Kiev is of the view that any high-profile talks with Russia should be held on neutral territory, Zelensky said, naming Israel as a potential host for such negotiations.
“We spoke with [Israeli Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett, and I said that today it is not right [to hold] meetings in Russia, in Belarus. I’m not talking about technical meetings – I’m talking about leaders’ meetings. Do I think that Israel can be such a land, and Jerusalem? Yes, I think so. And I told him that,” Zelensky stated.
However, the president said, if the outcome was to be successful, his country would need certain “security guarantees” that the ongoing conflict was settled not only from the perspective of Russia, but also from that of the West. Israel could act as a guarantor in that respect, he suggested.
So far, Russian and Ukrainian delegations have met three times in Belarus to discuss the ongoing conflict. Apart from reaching some understanding on establishing humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from the combat zones, the two sides have failed to achieve any tangible results.
A more high-profile meeting took place in the Turkish resort city of Antalya on Thursday, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba. These discussions also proved inconclusive, with Kuleba describing them as “difficult”, and Lavrov claiming the Ukrainian officials “always want to substitute the real work of implementing agreements with inventing new formats.”