Ukraine to 'consider' talks held under its preconditions, says presidential aide

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will decide 'who to talk to,' Mykhailo Podolyak says in interview.

Ukraine to 'consider' talks held under its preconditions, says presidential aide

Ukraine will agree to consider talks with Russia only if its conditions are met, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday.

"We will consider a partner who agrees to negotiate (based) on our preconditions," Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, in response to a question on whether Kyiv would accept talks with the current leadership in Moscow.

Podolyak underlined the importance of Ukraine's preconditions being accepted, rather than "the person who accepts them."

Earlier this month, President Zelenskyy set out a series of conditions for talks with Russia, including a call on Moscow to comply with the UN Charter and pay compensation for losses caused by the ongoing war. This was seen as a possible reversal of a previous decision ruling out negotiations with the current Russian government.

In the interview, Podolyak downplayed the chances of Russia consenting to Ukraine's conditions, however, saying: "I don't think Putin can accept them. He would be eliminated as a political actor and, in any case, Zelenskyy will decide who to talk to."

The Ukrainian official also dismissed claims that the US was pushing Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow, saying that the US is an ally that "supports us in everything."

Podolyak also commented on Russia's Wednesday decision to withdraw from the western bank of the Dnieper River, noting that the move was not "a gesture of good will at all, but a very serious military defeat."

"Russia will not change its aggressive strategy, even after losing Kherson. On the contrary, it is investing in resources, men, and means to entrench itself on the eastern bank of the Dnieper. However, we have observed that they continue to send men and weapons also to the western shore. They have built four defensive lines in the occupied areas and, in the meantime, they are sending new recruits to the Zaporizhzhia region," he added.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on Wednesday ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's southern port city of Kherson to the east bank of the Dnieper River.

"Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of personnel, weapons and equipment across the Dnieper River," Shoygu told Sergey Surovikin, commander of the Russian military group in Ukraine.