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Ukraine's Zelenskyy hopeful about meeting Putin

April 26, 2021

The talks about a new ceasefire in Ukraine are already "at the finish line," said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. A meeting with Vladimir Putin was also on the cards.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr  Zelenskyy visiting soldiers near the separatist-controlled territory in April 2021
Zelenskyy (C) was elected in 2019 on the promise of ending the conflict with pro-Russian separatistsImage: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday he was likely to discuss the Donbass conflict at a summit with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin chief recently expressed willingness to meet Zelenskyy in Moscow, a meeting Ukraine had sought after a period of trading blame over the escalating tensions. 

"It seems to me that everything is going towards the fact that this meeting will take place," Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian leader added that his chief of staff would contact the Kremlin to discuss when and where the two leaders could meet.

Infografik Karte Russlands Armee an der Grenze zur Ukraine EN

Last week, Russia began pullback on a troop buildup on the borders. The deployment had prompted fears in Ukraine and drew backlash from the West.

What about a ceasefire? 

Ukraine is also hopeful for a new ceasefire to be ready for the Orthodox Easter this weekend.

"I believe that we are already at the finish line for this agreement," the Zelenskyy said. 

Despite a 2020 ceasefire, the conflict in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists picked up again earlier this year. 

At least 20 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in 2021. 

'Not another Chernobyl'

Zelenskyy made the remarks at an event marking the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that took place near Ukraine's border with Belarus.

The Ukrainian president pledged not let the Donbass conflict region turn into another no-go zone like the contaminated land around the atomic plant.

"We cannot go back in time and prevent the tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Zelenskyy said. "But we can definitely do everything today to prevent a future tragedy […] which may occur in the occupied Donbass."

The conflict in eastern Ukraine killed more than 14,000 people since 2014, according to the Ukrainian government. 

fb/dj (Reuters, Interfax)