Zelensky 'Ready' to Negotiate with Putin, Warns of 'Third World War' - Rolling Stone
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Zelensky ‘Ready’ to Negotiate with Putin, But Warns of ‘Third World War’ if Talks Collapse

“I think that we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin,” said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is ready and willing to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has led a violent invasion into the sovereign nation in recent weeks, bombing heavily populated areas and displacing millions of Ukrainians. Those negotiations, however, could lead to a much bigger global conflict if the talks break down, Zelensky said.

“I’m ready for negotiations with him. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations we cannot end this war,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired on Sunday. “I think that we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War.”

Zelensky continued, “We have always insisted on negotiations. We have always offered dialogue, offered solutions for peace. And I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. It’s time to meet. Time to talk. It is time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine.”

When asked about Putin’s spreading of disinformation that Ukraine’s government is full of neo-Nazis, which he has used to justify the war, Zelensky, who is of Jewish descent, said it sounds “like a joke.” But, Zelensky added, if Putin really believes this claim, it would suggest Russia’s leader “might be capable of very horrendous steps.”

“Putin is in an information bubble … an information bunker … He really thinks that Ukrainians are neo-Nazis. So this is a laughable statement for me, [but] then a fear resurfaces,” Zelensky said, adding, “The fact is that if he is serious about this statement, he might be capable of very horrendous steps because that would mean that this is not a game for him.”

Zakaria also asked how Zelensky was holding up after nearly a month of war in his country. In his response, the Ukrainian president spoke of how difficult it is to know that so many civilians, especially children, have died in the conflict. “My weakest point is losing people, losing children in these numbers and this huge amount of casualties,” he said, adding, “I go to sleep with this information about children who were killed and we are continuing to pray in order to prevent new losses of people, but so far we haven’t attained these results.”

Russia has fired countless missiles at Ukraine since troops invaded on Feb. 24, attacking military installations and civilian areas alike, including apartment buildings in downtown Kyiv, a children’s hospital, and a theater where 1200 women and children were seeking shelter. Zelensky has said that children in the hospital were buried under the rubble and called the attack “the ultimate evidence of genocide,” and President Joe Biden has accused Putin of being a “war criminal.”

The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported Sunday that it has recorded 904 civilian deaths in Ukraine, including 75 children, although the office believes the “actual figures are considerably higher.” Most of the civilian casualties, OHCHR reported, were the result of “explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”

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