Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he is doing “everything” he can to end the war with Russia-backed separatists but that peace and control of territory in the so-called Donbas depends “90 percent” on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking in an interview with a Ukrainian TV channel excerpted on August 5, he also said preparations were being made for a meeting with the Russian leader.
Zelenskiy said he “really wants” the conflict to end.
“Unfortunately, not everything depends on me,” Zelenskiy said. “I believe and don’t hide it at all — and the president of the Russian Federation knows my opinion — today 90 percent of success in the return of the Donbas, peace in Ukraine, the de-occupation of our territories, depends on one person.”
Kyiv and Moscow have sparred over the site and agenda of a face-to-face presidential meeting.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Putin is prepared to discuss bilateral relations with his Ukrainian counterpart but not the situation in eastern Ukraine.
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have been tense since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and armed Russia-backed separatists ignited a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has left more than 13,200 people dead.
The separatists still control large swaths of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Moscow has consistently denied it is a participant despite overwhelming evidence of direct military and other support for the separatists.
A series of agreements agreed in Minsk to pave a way to end the conflict have gone unfulfilled.
“I have always advocated that the first point of” Minsk and the “essence” of all agreements is a cease-fire, Zelenskiy said.
“You should at least stop firing to talk about something. This is a fact,” he added.
The Ukrainian president also said that the “occupied” territories of eastern Ukraine will never be Russian, and he encouraged residents there who consider themselves Russian and the region part of Russia to go and “seek a place in Russia.”