Ukraine is ready to accept a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday in an interview with Russian independent journalists.
"Security guarantees and the neutral, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to accept this. This is the most important point," Zelensky said.
Zelensky told the journalists that, "this was the first point of principle for the Russian Federation, as I recall. And as far as I remember, they started the war because of this."
Any agreement would have to be put to the Ukrainian people in a referendum, he said. But Zelensky once again stressed his desire to reach a concrete peace agreement.
"So this clause is a security guarantee clause for Ukraine. And since they say it's for them [security guarantees] as well, it's understandable to me, and it's being discussed. It's in-depth, but I'm interested in making sure it's not just another piece of paper." Zelensky added.
"So we're interested in having that paper turned into a serious treaty to be signed."
Zelenksy also said, "the issues of Donbas and Crimea must be discussed and solved" in peace talks.
Some context: Zelensky's comments come as the Turkish presidency said the next round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegates will be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Tuesday.
Earlier, Zelensky told the Russian journalists he would refuse to sit down with Russia's negotiators if they seek to solely discuss the "denazification" of Ukraine. He said Ukraine will not discuss the terms "denazification" and "demilitarization" at all during talks with Russia.