Ukraine urges Russia’s troop pullback to resume talks

Kiev, May 7 (IANS) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country stands ready to resume talks on settling the conflict with Russia after Moscow’s forces return to the positions they held before the invasion on February 24.

“They need to withdraw to those temporary contact lines or dividing lines, they must withdraw troops there. Then we can start the full-scale talks,” Xinhua news agency quoted Zelensky as saying while speaking to mediapersons.

“To stop the war between Russia and Ukraine the step should be regaining the situation as of 23 February,” he said, referring to the day before the war began.

“I was elected by the people of Ukraine as president of Ukraine, not as President of a mini Ukraine of some kind. This is a very important point.”

The reference to the situation as of February 23 suggests Ukraine may not insist on retaking Crimea before making peace with Russia, reports the BBC.

The peninsula was annexed by Russia eight years ago.

Calling for the resumption of diplomatic dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, the President said: “Despite the fact that they destroyed all our bridges, I think not all the bridges are yet destroyed, figuratively speaking.”

The Ukrainian and Russian delegations held their latest round of in-person peace negotiations in Istanbul, Turkey in late March.