Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy outlines goals for peace agreement

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In his first interview with Russian journalists since his country was invaded, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described some of Ukraine’s positions for ending the war.

During an interview with popular Russian independent news sites TV Rain and Meduza, Zelenskyy said any peace deal is only possible if Russia withdraws its troops to the territory occupied before the start of the invasion, meaning Crimea and the separatist-held areas of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said his main goals are “to maximally reduce the number of casualties (and) to shorten the length of this war.”

“The withdrawal of Russia to compromise territories — but that is everything (that) was before 24 February, before the assault. Let them return there,” Zelenskyy said. “I understand that to force Russia to completely liberate territory is impossible. That will lead to a third world war. I totally understand all that. And I say it: compromise. Return to where all this started and there we will try to resolve the question of Donbas, the difficult question of Donbas.”

Zelenskyy also said that Ukraine is ready to discuss taking a position of “neutrality” and “non-nuclear status” with Russia, but wants security guarantees for his country in return.

He again said he would put the issue to a referendum in Ukraine and that any treaty would need to be ratified by “guarantor countries” — which other officials have suggested must include the United States.

Zelenskyy reiterated that no guarantor countries, such as the United Kingdom and Turkey, will sign any agreement while Russian troops remain on Ukrainian soil.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

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