Ukraine open to Russia’s neutrality demand but won’t yield territory, aide says

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Ukraine is open to discussing Russia’s demand of neutrality as long as it’s given security guarantees, though it won’t surrender a “single inch of territory,” a top foreign policy aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“Surely, we are ready for a diplomatic solution,” Ihor Zhovkva, Zelenskyy’s deputy chief of staff, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday.

The aide reinforced Ukraine’s demand for security guarantees “from the US, from Great Britain, from Germany and others -- only security guarantees from Russia will not be enough,” though he declined to spell out what those measures would entail.

Preconditions for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, Zhovka said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will soon enter its third week, with cities including Kharkiv in the northeast and the southeast port city of Mariupol under siege as Russian forces begin to surround the capital Kyiv. The US and its allies have responded with a barrage of sanctions that have triggered a plunge in the ruble as companies withdraw from Russia.

Zelenskyy earlier Wednesday said that civilians near Kyiv are managing to escape Russian shelling as humanitarian corridors are set up, even as the siege of Mariupol leaves thousands trapped.

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