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Zelensky Ready To 'Discuss & Find Compromise' On Crimea, No Longer Insists On NATO Membership

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 09, 2022 - 01:11 AM

Update(12:38ET)President Zelensky's 14-hour old ABC News interview (which we detailed hours ago below) is finally getting widespread distribution and is being repackaged as a significant nod to Moscow on what's been Putin's core issue he cited as justification for launching the war:

In another apparent nod aimed at placating Moscow, Zelensky said he is open to "compromise" on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent just before unleashing the invasion on February 24.

"I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that ...NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine," Zelensky said in an interview aired Monday night on ABC News.

"The alliance is afraid of controversial things, and confrontation with Russia," the president added.

"I'm talking about security guarantees," Zelensky said, explaining that Ukraine is now open for dialogue on these central Russian security demands in order to stop the war.

For those who missed it when it first came out 14 hours ago, the interview is here:

* * *

Update(10:51ET)Yesterday ahead of what was the third round of Russia-Ukraine attempts to establish a ceasefire, which reportedly didn't result in much progress, the Kremlin issued updated demands saying it would halt all military operations if Ukraine agreed to the following: recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, acknowledged the statehood of Donetsk and Luhansk, and importantly to update the Ukrainian constitution barring entry into external military alliances (namely NATO).

In fresh remarks given to ABC News, President Zelensky hinted that Kiev could be willing to compromise on some of these proposals. He said

"I’m talking about security guarantees. I think items regarding temporarily occupied territories and unrecognized republics that have not been recognized by anyone but Russia, these pseudo-republics. But we can discuss and find the compromise on how these territories will live on. What is important to me is how the people in those territories are going to live who want to be part of Ukraine."

However, he reaffirmed in the interview that Ukraine is not ready to compromise based on "ultimatums". Previously Zelensky said he wouldn't negotiate based on a "gun at this head" - and so far the talks have been focused on establishing local pauses in fighting for the sake of civilian evacuations of cities. "I’m ready for dialogue, we’re not ready for capitulation," he said.

Zelensky in the newly published ABC interview for the first time since the war began on Feb.24 issued a significantly toned down rhetoric on the question of future NATO membership:

"Regarding NATO, I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago, after we understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia. We never wanted to be a country that is begging for something on its knees, and we are not going to be that country and I don’t want to be that president."

Meanwhile a regional Ukrainian military commander has sounded the alarm over the worsening humanitarian situation surrounding Kiev. Military spokesman Oleksiy Kuleba said Tuesday, "The main issue today remains humanitarian aid. Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Makariv, Borodyanka, Vorzel — residents of these settlements are forced to stay in bomb shelters for days without water and food. The occupiers do not give humanitarian corridors, do not give guarantees," Kuleba said. 

The districts named lie to the north and west of the capital: "Russian occupiers keep shelling residential areas. They keep bringing more military vehicles," he added. "We demand silence every day, every hour, every minute. We will promptly and immediately send help and evacuate our people," he said.

The UN on Tuesday said that at least 474 civilians have been killed since the start of the invasion - including civilians in the Donbass. 

The Kremlin has contradicted Kiev's assessment of broken promises for local ceasefires, with CNN citing the defense ministry in the following:

The Russian defense ministry said 723 people have been evacuated along an agreed evacuation route out of the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy on Tuesday. 

The ministry was quoted by the state news agency RIA Novosti. It said those evacuated included Indian, Chinese and Jordanian and Tunisian citizens.

The first convoy that left Tuesday morning reached the city of Poltava without incident, Ukrainian officials said.

On Tuesday, both the Director of National Intelligence and the head of the CIA weighed in on Russia's intention's and the state of the conflict...

  • PUTIN IS LIKELY TO REMAIN UNDETERRED AND MAY ESCALATE ASSAULT IN UKRAINE -HAINES
  • PUTIN PROBABLY STILL CONFIDENT RUSSIA CAN DEFEAT UKRAINE - HAINES
  • PUTIN IS "DETERMINED TO DOMINATE AND CONTROL UKRAINE" -CIA DIRECTOR BURNS
  • PUTIN IS ANGRY, FRUSTRATED, LIKELY TO DOUBLE DOWN IN UKRAINE WITH NO REGARD FOR CASUALTIES -BURNS

Further CIA Director William Burns described that US intelligence expects an "ugly next few weeks" coming in Ukraine. 

* * *

Courtesy of Newsquawk, here is a summary of the relentless firehose of all Ukraine war news to hit in the past few hours.

Discussions/Negotitations:

  • Russian forces have held fire within Ukraine, as of 07:00GMT, via Reuters citing Ifx/Defence Ministry; subsequently, Ukrainian Presidential Official says the evacuation of civilians from Sumy and Irpin is underway.

Energy/Economic Updates

  • EU is reportedly considering a massive joint bond sale to finance defence and energy, according to Bloomberg citing sources; plan could be announced as early as this week. An announcement which sparked risk-on action, details here
  • EU Commission has prepared a new set of sanctions against Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters sources; to be discussed today, blacklisting further oligarchs, providing guidance over monitoring crypto-assets, ban export of maritime tech to Russia.
  • EU will unveil a plan on Tuesday to reduce gas imports from Russia by two-thirds within a year, according to FT.
  • US House Majority Leader Hoyer said a bill to ban Russian oil imports could be introduced this week.
  • Shell (SHEL LN) intends to withdraw from the Russian oil and gas business, in the immediacy will cease spot purchases of Russian oil and gas.
  • Ukrainian leaders are expected to send a letter to US Congress asking the US to ban from the stock market all companies that pay taxes to Russia’s government, according to WaPo citing a letter.
  • Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno announced that Japan banned exports of oil refining equipment to Russia, while Japan imposed personal sanctions on another 20 Russian citizens and 12 Belarusian citizens, according to Sputnik.
  • MSCI said it is to discontinue certain indexes following the reclassification of Russia.
  • Fitch decided to suspend commercial operations in Russia with immediate effect, while it downgraded Belarus from B to CCC.
  • German Economic Affairs and Climate Action Minister Habeck does not see Russia halting flows from Nord Stream 1, according to RTL.
  • Russian gas flows to Slovakia via Ukraine have decreased sharply, via Reuters citing Entsog data.

Third Party Remarks

  • UK MPs support a package of sanctions to toughen government powers and speed up sanctions against Russian tycoons.

Defense/Military Imports

  • Russian President Putin said they will only use professional soldiers in its Ukraine operation and will not use conscript soldiers in Ukraine.
  • EU Commission VP Dombrovskis says that Russia President Putin is likely to increase his military ambitions and challenge NATO in Baltic Sea nations, unless Putin is stopped in Ukraine, via Politico; additionally, Dombrovskis was sceptical about diplomatic overtures towards Putin and maintained that nothing should be off the table re. sanctions.

Other

  • China and India are to conduct border discussions on March 11th, via Bloomberg citing an Indian official.
  • Russian Foreign Ministry says that Russian and the US should go back to the principle of peaceful co-existence as was the case during the Cold War, according to Interfax.
  • Iranian President says Tehran will not back down from its red lines regarding the nuclear deal, via Fars.
  • Qatar stepped up mediation between US and Iran regarding a nuclear deal, according to FT sources; Qatari officials have also been working to facilitate direct talks between Washington and Tehran, should a deal be reached.
  • Russia says it understands N. Korea's decision to renew missile tests, via Reuters citing Ria; when N. Korea paused missile tests it only saw increased military cooperation between Seoul and Washington.
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