‘In what capacity?’ Putin puzzled as Zelensky invites outgoing PM May to chaperon their talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a tongue-in-cheek approval for a proposed multilateral meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, but questioned his choice of the outgoing British PM as a participant.

On Monday, Zelensky’s office released a video address to Putin, in which he claimed that the two leaders needed to talk in person. “We do not change or reject any diplomatic format. We suggest talking. We need to have a talk, don’t we?” Zelensky said.

Putin, who was asked for a response during a press conference on Thursday, agreed that a meeting with Zelensky “may be interesting,” but chided the Ukrainian president over the list of proposed attendees. Zelensky wants the leaders of the US, the UK, Germany and France to chaperon him during the talks with Putin, and referred to them all by name in the address. The Russian leader said that the inclusion of the outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May seemed strange to him.

“As far as I know, in a couple of weeks she resigns from the office of the prime minister of Britain. In what capacity is she being invited to the meeting? It’s not clear. Did she even agree to it or not?” Putin remarked.

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The Russian president said that such details should be worked out before he and Zelensky could have a productive meeting. He expects that a serious, top-level Russian-Ukrainian summit will only be possible after snap parliamentary elections are held in Ukraine later this month, and the new legislature appoints a new government.

Putin and Zelensky have been trading rhetorical barbs through the media for months. The Ukrainian leader draws on his artistic talent and sense of comedy for inspiration, while his Russian opponent has the benefit of decades of experience as a world leader in his armory.

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Zelensky calls for ceasefire in Donbass and return of ‘lost territories’ in inauguration speech

Volodymyr Zelensky has called for cabinet resignations and the return of “lost” territories after being sworn in as Ukraine’s president. He said that he wants to negotiate peace in Donbass, even if it risks losing his post.

The comedian-turned-politician was inaugurated as Ukraine’s president during a ceremony in parliament in Kiev on Monday.

In his inauguration address, Zelensky called on the Ukrainian parliament to fire the head of the country’s security service, the prosecutor general, and the defense minister. He also said that Kiev will attempt to reclaim “lost” territories, and that any peace settlement in Donbass would have to begin with Ukrainian “captives” being returned from the East.

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“Our first task is to reach the ceasefire in the Donbass,” Zelensky said in his address to the Ukrainian people from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada. He added that he isn’t afraid of making “difficult decisions” in order to achieve piece – but would never surrender Ukrainian territory.

“I’m ready to lose my position without hesitation so that peace will come – without losing our territory, never.”

Zelensky won a landslide victory against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, becoming Ukraine’s youngest post-Soviet president.

Despite his electoral success, the comedian-turned-politician has yet to lay out a comprehensive platform for his administration.

  • Published in World
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