Ukraine’s Zelenskyy renews calls for direct talks with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has again called for direct talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, saying he is ready for a compromise to end the nearly one-month war that has triggered an unprecedented refugee crisis and left major Ukrainian cities devastated.

Zelenskyy said on Monday that the status of contested territories in the country’s east could be up for debate and that Kyiv was willing to shelve its NATO ambition in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian forces.

“At the first meeting with the president of Russia, I am ready to raise these issues,” he said late on Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels.

“It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” he added.

He told local media that he was ready to meet Putin “in any format” to discuss ending the war, but added that any deal would have to go through a referendum.