Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian actor who is one of the leading candidates in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, would be willing to negotiate with Moscow in order to obtain a ceasefire in the Donbas.
“I would like to do everything in order to stop the shooting in eastern Ukraine, so that our people stop being killed… On the diplomatic front we must lead the attack, and not wait until this is done for us. We need to negotiate. We need to reestablish meetings in the Normandy Format and invite the US and UK to multilateral negotiations. If we and our allies and partners consider it necessary, we may even need to hold bilateral negotiations with Russia,” Zelensky said during an interview for the Ukrainian news outlet Novoe Vremya.
Zelensky believes that, in order to triumph, Ukraine needs “powerful diplomacy, economic growth, a strong army and an active information policy”. The country must also adhere to the primary principle: “no one has the right to decide anything concerning Ukraine without Ukraine’s involvement”.
“And there can be no compromises in matters of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, we need to propose Ukrainian initiatives towards putting an end to the combat, the de-occupation of the Donbas, and the return of Crimea. Since the Minsk Agreements, there have been virtually no such initiatives from Ukraine. We need political will,” the candidate said.
He also emphasized the importance of building a powerful army.
“Integration into NATO is first and foremost a way of reforming the army and ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty. I believe that joining NATO should only be done through an all-Ukrainian referendum. But the army needs to transition to NATO standards and to learn from NATO specialists. The salaries and social protection for soldiers need to be on the same level as NATO armies,” Zelensky emphasized.
Aside from resolving the conflict in the Donbas, he said that his two other priorities as president would be to fight corruption – “Ukraine’s primary internal enemy” – and to build roads.