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We talked and bargained a lot

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shared details about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2019.

Source: President Zelenskyy during a press conference following the Ukraine. Year 2024 conference

Details: Zelenskyy was asked about his recollections of his one-on-one meeting with Putin in Paris on 9 December 2019, during a Normandy Format meeting between Zelenskyy, Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, then the German chancellor.

Quote from Zelenskyy: “We had a long conversation and the tone of it varied. I told him that the Minsk Agreements wouldn’t work, because that way of withdrawing troops along the contact line does not work… I showed him: Look how long it took us to withdraw our forces. I showed him that it would take us 20 years to withdraw all forces, which would mean 20 years of frozen conflict, which would mean the war was not over yet. That’s what we talked about. We talked about it for a long time, we bargained.

The second issue [we discussed] was gas, the court case that we won – but you know how Russia goes about cases it loses. They accepted that they would hand the money over to us, and we got that money.

The third issue was [prisoner] exchange. We agreed to swap more than 100 people.

Well, and he kept going back to the idea of a ceasefire, but we saw what happened to that. It was kind of in place for a few months, and then we started to suffer losses again.”

Details: Zelenskyy said that he does not recall every detail of that meeting, because he feels as though “it took place in another life, where everything was different”. He added that “all this has been happening for a long time”.

Background:

  • On 9 December 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

  • Ukrainska Pravda sources reported that Zelenskyy and Putin discussed elections in Donbas and how Ukraine might regain control over the border, but no agreements were reached apart from one concerning a prisoner swap.

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