Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is ready to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin directly — but "will not make any compromise to the Russian position during these negotiations," his deputy told CNN.
Though talks between the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers, held Thursday in the Turkish city of Antalya, did not yield any major breakthrough, Ukraine hadn't been too optimistic from the start, said Igor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
“This is a really good thing that they met, but unfortunately we can say that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia is not the one making the final decision. The final decision to stop war, to make a ceasefire, to withdraw troops is made by one person only," he said, apparently referring to Putin.
Zelensky ready to talk: Zhovkva said that though Zelensky was ready for a diplomatic solution, he has not heard from the Russian President personally or his aides.
“The last thing I heard from them was we have to still work under the format of two delegations … But, look, even the agreements reached during these negotiations are not held," Zhovkva said, pointing to humanitarian corridors in Ukraine that are "being kept in custody by Russian forces."
What Ukraine is willing to give: Zhovkva said Ukraine was open to neutrality "if the NATO bloc is not ready for the time being to accept Ukraine."
"But at the same time, we do need hard security guarantees for Ukraine so these awful wars, this awful aggression does not repeat in the future," he added.
Zhovkva said Ukraine wanted to work with Putin and its neighbors to establish a system he called "the renewed security system of Europe."
“My country, the Ukrainian people deserve to become a part of the European family…Ukraine is fighting for the security of all of Europe. So when (French) President (Emmanuel) Macron talks about possible European security, how can he talk without having President Zelensky at the table? Without having President Zelensky and Ukraine in the European Union?” Zhovkva said.