The most important issues in the negotiations with Russia are security guarantees, neutrality and Ukraine’s nuclear-free status; "denazification" and demilitarization are not discussed at all, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an interview for Russian media from "Zygar" YouTube channel, "Rain" TV channel, "Meduza" portal, "Kommersant" and "Novaya Gazeta".
The Head of State noted that at the beginning of the talks the Russian Federation issued a public ultimatum. It contained the same items that were discussed in the media, in particular the so-called denazification and demilitarization.
According to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, this was an informational throw-in that Russia usually resorts to when it delays negotiations, but wants to pretend that the process is ongoing and something is being done.
We do not discuss "denazification" and demilitarization at all. I said that we will not sit at the negotiating table at all if we talk about some kind of demilitarization, some kind of "denazification". For me, these are completely incomprehensible things," the President said.
At the same time, he noted that the issues of guarantees of security, neutrality, nuclear-free status of our country remain the most important, as Russia calls NATO enlargement one of the reasons for invading Ukraine.
The Head of State noted that this issue has been deeply elaborated, and Ukraine is ready to agree on it only if it has guarantees fixed on paper.
"I want it not to be another piece of paper like the Budapest Memorandum. We are interested in turning this paper into a meaningful agreement, which will be signed by all guarantors," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Verification of this document must also be carried out in the parliaments of the guarantor countries, and a referendum on this issue must be held in Ukraine.
"The Russian side needs assurances that this will happen. Therefore, the referendum. Because only the people can decide that there can be such a status and such guarantors. The referendum will take place in a few months, and the amendments to the Constitution will take at least a year. According to our current legislation," the President stated.
At the same time, the Head of State stressed that holding such a referendum will be possible only after the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine. After all, when active hostilities continue in the country and troops of another state are present, "no one will ever recognize the results of this referendum."
"We must have agreements with President Putin. The guarantors will not sign anything if the troops are not withdrawn," he said.
"We met and agreed. Our agreement with him. With signatures, seals, even blood, doesn’t matter. And that's enough to start the process of troops withdrawal. The troops must be withdrawn, the guarantors will sign everything, and all this will start working. Ratifications in parliaments, a referendum in several months, and only then - amendments to the Constitution," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy, adding that his personal meeting with President Vladimir Putin is needed for that.
As for the issue of the Russian language in Ukraine, the President believes that it can be resolved through mutual respect for the languages of all neighboring countries, which should also be documented.
"In general, I would like to cut off this constant argument about language. We all speak the way we want and the language we want. We have more than 100 nationalities in the country. That's why I said: only a mirror respect for the history, languages, cultural values of all neighbors. I accept that. I am sure that our people will accept it if they want. Because all this will be decided one way or another by the people, the voters," he said.
The President stressed that every next day of the war calls into question the use of the Russian language in Ukraine in general.
"People themselves will not want to perceive and speak this language, watch movies and so on. Especially when they try to instill love for the language through blood, as happened in the case of Ukraine. People themselves will not want that," he said.
As the Head of State explained, if any national minority wants to open an educational or other institution, make publications in its own language, there should be mirror steps regarding the Ukrainian language.
"Respect for the languages of neighboring nations. I am interested in such an agreement, I want to sign it. I want to sign it with all neighboring countries. I am interested in Russia, Hungary, Poland - we have many historical issues, Romania and so on. We have many national minorities. And this agreement will be enough to respect certain languages both inside the country and abroad. Therefore, the issue of language, I am sure, will be off the agenda, because it will be resolved," Volodymyr Zelenskyy summed up.