Putin discusses Ukrainian conflict, prisoner exchange, in first direct phone call with Zelensky
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken to the new Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since his election victory. The two discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine and potential further contact.
The call was initiated by Kiev, a statement issued by the Kremlin says. The two presidents talked about ways to resolve the ongoing conflict that has been gripping the eastern regions of Ukraine for some five years as well as about potential cooperation in facilitating prisoner exchange between the parties to the conflict. Moscow and Kiev agreed that such consultations would continue at expert level, the statement said.
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The two presidents also touched upon the idea of continuing the talks in the ‘Normandy format’, which includes French and German leaders alongside those of Russia and Ukraine. Earlier, Zelensky urged Putin to talk in person in a video address he released on Monday. Yet, he also said that he expects the leaders of the US, the UK, Germany and France to chaperone him during such a meeting.
Zelensky’s decision to invite the outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May prompted Putin to chide the Ukrainian leader. Putin particularly asked in what capacity she would be present at the talks, which are unlikely to take place before she leaves her post.
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