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Kremlin comments on Zelensky and Putin direct meeting

A direct meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his  Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, depends on the “modality” of the document they were to sign, a Kremlin official said on Friday.

Answering a journalist’s question on whether the document settling the conflict in Ukraine requires both presidents signing it in person or not, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it “depends on the modality of the document that is yet to be agreed upon,” as reported by the Russian news agency TASS.

Peskov also noted that the Russian side was ready to work much faster than it was at the moment, but the Ukrainian party was “unfortunately” showing no signs it might speed up the process. Despite these facts, the workflow was going on, the spokesman confirmed.

The Ukrainian president’s aide, Mikhail Podolyak, said on Thursday that Zelensky could meet Putin “in the coming weeks,” but only on the condition that the peace treaty between Moscow and Kiev was ready. Russian and Ukrainian delegations have held several rounds of peace talks in Belarus since the beginning of the ongoing hostilities late in February, which were continued in a daily video-conference format. The negotiations have led to Kiev and Moscow to find common ground on organizing humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from the war zones.

“Significant progress” in the peace talks was reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday, with the newspaper claiming the two sides were discussing a 15-point draft plan. It was refuted as a false one by Moscow, who promised to update the public should any actual breakthrough in the negotiations be reached. Kiev dismissed the FT report as well, with Podolyak claiming the 15-point plan reflected Moscow’s demands and nothing more.

Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc, while Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied assumptions it was planning to retake the two breakaway regions by force.

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