Ukraine will have to cancel a decree that effectively rules out negotiations with Russia, if there is to be any prospect of talks to bring about an end to the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
“If the United States believes that Ukraine is ready for negotiations, then let them (Ukraine) cancel the decree prohibiting negotiations,” Putin said, speaking in Vladivostok at the Eastern Economic Forum.
Putin noted that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “said they were ready (for negotiations). Then they (Ukraine) should cancel the decree, then we will see.”
“They said publicly that they would not negotiate. Let them now say publicly that they want to,” said Putin.
In October 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a decree formally declaring the prospect of any talks with Putin "impossible.”
The decree followed a proclamation by the Russian president that four occupied regions of Ukraine had formally become part of Russia.
Not the time for talks: Zelensky has long expressed concerns about negotiating with Putin, and pointed to his past record of reneging on agreements.
“When you want to have a compromise or a dialogue with somebody, you cannot do it with a liar,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview in Kyiv last week.
Zelensky pointed to the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin – the Russian mercenary leader whose plane crashed weeks after he led a mutiny against Moscow’s military leadership – shows what happens when people make deals with Putin.
He said when Putin understood that a big part of society supported Prigozhin, “he killed him. But before (that) he gave him promises, the territory of Belorussia (Belarus), gave him new locations, the Africa issues and businesses, a lot of different things.”
Blinken told ABC News this week that Russia needs to demonstrate that it can act in good faith if talks are to occur.
“It takes two to tango. And thus far, we see no indication that... Putin has any interest in meaningful diplomacy. If he does, I think the Ukrainians will be the first to engage, and we'll be right behind them. Everyone wants this war to end, but it has to end on just terms and on durable terms that reflect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Blinken said.