Vladimir Putin is not prepared to make the necessary compromises to end the war in Ukraine, according to a senior US official cited by Reuters. The first face-to-face peace talks in two weeks are due to be held imminently in Turkey.
"Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point," the unnamed official reportedly said. "So how far we go in trying to offer him off-ramps that undercut the sovereignty of Ukraine and the decisions that President Zelenskiy would have to make, I don’t have a good insight for you," he continued.
Speaking to Russian journalists from media outlets banned by Russia’s government, President Zelenskiy sketched out a potential path to a peaceful agreement between the two countries on Sunday.
He said that Ukraine was willing to compromise on issues including future Nato membership and maintaining a non-nuclear status. “Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point,” Zelenskiy said.
He also said that Ukraine was willing to give the Russian language an enhanced status in the country, saying: “Respect for the languages of our neighbour countries, that’s an agreement that interests me, I’d like to sign something like that with all of our neighbours. I’m interested in Russia, Hungary, Poland – we have a lot of historical issues.”
However, Zelenskiy also made it clear that any agreements surrounding Ukraine’s neutrality would have to be passed in a national referendum, and backed up by security guarantees ensured by third countries.
In spite of Zelenskiy’s avowed willingness to compromise on most of the sticking points raised by Russia, Ukrainian officials have played down expectations of a deal at the upcoming peace talks in Istanbul.
But with signs that Russia is now losing ground – particularly in the north of the country – it is not clear how much longer they will be in a convincing position to make demands of the Ukrainian negotiators.