Zelensky stresses territorial integrity ahead of negotiations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is stressing the territorial integrity of his country as officials from Kyiv and Moscow prepare to meet for negotiations this week.

"Our priorities in the negotiations are known. Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt," Zelensky said in a televised address Sunday evening.

"Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory," he added. "Our goal is obvious - peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible."

That comment, however, appears to be a shift from Zelensky's remarks to a group of Russian journalists earlier that day, when he said Ukraine would consider neutral status as part of a peace deal if such an agreement were assured by third parties and put to a referendum.

During the call, Zelensky told Russian journalists "security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point." The Ukrainian president spoke in Russian.

The Kremlin did, however, warn Russian media against reporting what Zelensky had told them, according to Reuters.

Delegations from Moscow and Kyiv are scheduled to meet for a new round of peace negotiations in Turkey this week, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine progresses through its second month. Chief Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia on Sunday said the talks would take place in Turkey between March 28 and March 30.