Ukraine’s head of military intelligence said Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to seize the eastern part of Ukraine and divide the country in two as North and South Korea were after World War II.
“The occupiers will try to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit it against independent Ukraine,” said Kyrylo Budanov, according to Fox News.
According to the Epoch Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has insisted that he will prioritize Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” in talks set to take place in Turkey this week, despite indicating that he was willing to accept a compromise.
Zelenskyy said in a video address to the Ukrainian people late on the night of March 26 that the talks will focus on “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We are looking for peace, really, without delay,” he said. “There is an opportunity and a need for a face-to-face meeting in Turkey,” he said.
The Ukrainian president also stated that he would work toward a new round of sanctions against Russia this week. He said sanctions are “necessary as long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory.”
However, Zelenskyy’s remarks differed from those he made earlier in the day to Russian journalists, Yahoo News reports. Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine is willing to discuss adopting a neutral status and compromise on the status of the eastern Donbas region as part of a peace deal with Russia.
However, such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, Zelenskyy said in a 90-minute video call with journalists.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media watchdog, issued a pre-emptive warning to Russian media not to report on the video discussions.
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are scheduled for March 28-30 in Istanbul, Turkey, according to chief Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia.
A senior U.S. official said on March 27 that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear willing to make compromises to end the war in Ukraine as the latter two countries prepared for their first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, MSN News reports.
Global News reports that Turkish officials had previously stated on March 19 that talks between Russia and Ukraine were close to reaching an agreement on “critical” issues that could lead to a ceasefire, as long as both sides do not backtrack on their previous progress.
Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, also dismissed talk of a referendum in eastern Ukraine, telling Reuters, “All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is entering its second month, and the United Nations reports nearly 4 million people have fled Ukraine. Last week, NATO said the Russian military had suffered between 7,000 and 15,000 deaths. Between 30,000 and 40,000 members of the Russian military have been wounded on the battlefield, Yahoo News reports.
The United Nations reported on March 27 that 1,119 civilians had so far been killed and 1,790 wounded since Russia began its attack on Ukraine, according to Reuters.