Updated Mar 22, 2022 - World

Zelensky floats possible Putin compromises

Picture of Volodymyr Zelensky speaking behind a podium
Photo: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Monday he would consider dropping Ukraine's requests for full NATO membership — a key Russian demand — in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees, AP reports.

The big picture: Zelensky again called for direct talks with Putin, and said he would also be open to having discussions on Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and parts of the Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists.

What he's saying: “It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Zelensky said, per AP.

  • “We are not being accepted into NATO because they are afraid of Russia. That’s all. We need to calm down and say, ‘Okay, what other security guarantees are possible?'" he added, per the Washington Post.

State of play: Putin has so far refused to meet directly with Zelensky, and weeks of peace talks between the two country's negotiators have failed to produce any major results.

  • Moscow has demanded that Ukraine declare neutrality, rule out future NATO membership and give up all claims to Crimea and the Donbas "republics."

What to watch: President Biden is scheduled travel to Europe later this week to meet with U.S. allies about the crisis in Ukraine.

  • At the same time, Russian forces have escalated its air and sea campaigns against Ukraine.

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