The meeting of the Normandy Four on September 11 was very important, the meeting in the Normandy format at the highest level is impossible without it, and therefore it is impossible to move forward to ending the war in eastern Ukraine. This was emphasized by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when answering questions from the media following a meeting with Federal President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna.
"It is important for us that the war does not just end, but with the least loss of people, with the return of our territories. It is desirable to end this war in the near future, to return people home and return our territories," the Ukrainian President said.
He stressed that 14,000 of our citizens died in the war, which was not started by Ukraine. Therefore, the achievement of a sustainable and comprehensive ceasefire in Donbas on July 27, which was agreed on within the Trilateral Contact Group, is one of the main points of negotiations. Due to these agreements, Ukraine has had no combat losses for six weeks in a row.
"Without a ceasefire, there can be no dialogue, there can be no further progress on Minsk," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to him, in the seventh week of the regime of silence, the Ukrainian military was killed, so an urgent meeting of advisors to the leaders of the "Normandy Four" was convened, at which the parties confirmed the agreement on compliance with the ceasefire.
"We do not believe that there will be no provocations, but we are doing everything to prevent casualties," the President of Ukraine noted.
He also noted that new demining sites were discussed at the meeting of advisors, which is also extremely important, because people are being killed by explosions on explosive devices. In addition, the issue of opening new checkpoints on the delimitation line, as well as the next points of disengagement of troops and assets in Donbas was raised.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted the progress in the issue of access of the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the temporarily occupied territory, which was discussed at the summit of the "Normandy Four" in December 2019 in Paris. According to him, this is very important for moving towards the release of Ukrainian captives, as it will help find out where exactly the Ukrainians are.
"There are many things that have been said, many issues that have been raised but not resolved. And we must decide whether to have at least general agreements so that a meeting of leaders (of the countries of the "Normandy Four") can finally take place. I can't promise, but I believe and hope that there will be another meeting of advisors, followed by a meeting of the leaders of the "Normandy Four". At least, as far as I know, all leaders confirm their willingness to meet," the President said.
Answering the journalist's question about his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "Unfortunately, we have lost the meaning of this word. We have lost it after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and the war in the east of the country began".
He stated that Ukraine and Russia used to have excellent friendly relations, but not today, when about 14,000 people died in hostilities and Donbas and Crimea were occupied.
"But I want to say frankly: we started talking," the President of Ukraine added.
According to him, the beginning of this dialogue has already yielded results - the establishment of the regime of silence in Donbas, almost no combat losses.
"And yet we were able to bring 140 captives home. I believe that this is the beginning of the dialogue. And it seems to me that it is still very, very early for us to talk about relations,” the Head of State summed up.