Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their telephone conversation that Kyiv would not negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin even as India iterated that there is no military solution to the ongoing conflict.
Earlier in the day, Zelensky had signed a presidential decree formally declaring the “impossibility” of negotiating with Putin. This is a decision of the Ukrainian National Security Council and had been articulated by Zelensky last week after Putin announced the annexation of four territories of Ukraine on the basis of referenda that have been dismissed as sham.
The readout of Tuesday’s conversation with Modi, issued late in the night by Zelensky’s office, said: “The holding of the so-called referenda by Russia in the temporarily occupied territories of our country was also discussed. The President noted that all the aggressor’s decisions aimed at attempting illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories are null and void and do not change reality.”
Under these circumstances, Zelensky said, “Ukraine will not conduct any negotiations with the current President of the Russian Federation” while maintaining that Kyiv has always been committed to a peaceful settlement through dialogue.
“However, Russia did not stand for dialogue and put forward ultimata instead, deliberately undermining this process. During my speech at the session of the UN General Assembly, I outlined our clear formula for peace. We are ready to work together with our partners to achieve it,” Zelensky was quoted as telling Modi.
Zelensky also emphasised the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s statement to Putin that this is not the time for war and both leaders discussed the issue of global food security. Ukraine is a major exporter of food grains and fertilisers, and the blockade of Ukrainian ports had disrupted supply chains, leading to shortages in the developing countries in particular.
Stating that Ukraine is willing to continue acting as a guarantor of the world’s food security, Zelensky said the “support of the entire international community, in particular India, for the further implementation of the grain initiative is important”.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative allows for Russian and Ukrainian food grains and fertilisers to reach global markets. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar had last week said that India had been asked to weigh in with Russia at a particularly delicate moment of the grain shipment discussions in the Black Sea that led to the lifting of the blockade of Ukrainian export of food and fertilisers.