Zelensky: Liberation of Ukraine's territories occupied after 2022 may force Putin to negotiate

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The liberation of Ukraine's territories occupied by Moscow after a full-scale invasion in February 2022 could push Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with CBS News published on March 28.

Zelensky said that once Russian troops retreat from these territories, Putin's support inside the country will be shaken, and Ukraine will not have to liberate all its territories seized since 2014 "exclusively by military means."

Ukraine and Russia held peace talks in the early stage of the full-scale war, but no results were achieved. Ukraine said negotiations with Russia are impossible until a complete military withdrawal. In September 2022, Zelensky said he would only be open to the idea if Putin is no longer in power.

"I am sure when he (Putin) loses what he occupied since 2022, he will fully lose the confidence even of those countries which are still in doubt whether they should support Ukraine or not," Zelensky said.

"And he will also lose the power within his country. As soon as it happens, he will be ready for a dialogue," the president added.

Read also: Portrait of the Invader: 2 years of Russian soldiering in Ukraine

Ukraine said the peace talks should be held on the basis of its 10-step peace formula, which includes a full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. The proposals also call for prosecuting those responsible for war crimes, preventing ecocide in Ukraine, and ensuring energy and food security as well as nuclear safety.

Russia has repeatedly rejected this plan and said it would not attend the Ukraine peace summit scheduled to be held in Switzerland later this year, even if it is invited.

Over 160 countries will be invited to discuss Kyiv's peace formula and create a joint document on what must be done to restore the country's sovereignty.

As Kyiv finds itself in an increasingly perilous situation in the war, Ukrainian military officials warned that Moscow may be preparing for a new major attack, mustering a force of 100,000 troops.

Zelensky said that the situation on the battlefield has been stabilized compared to earlier months, but he did not rule out that a major Russian offensive may come at the end of May or in June.

Read also: Opinion: Defeatists will be on the wrong side of history

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