Mr Zelensky signed a decree in September ruling out peace talks. But a senior government source said the ‘idea is to push the Russians back to the so-called borders of February 23 then we can negotiate’.
With the country’s population overwhelmingly opposed to any talks with Russia, the source added: ‘But if you write this, we’ll deny it. There’s no politician in Ukraine who will consider saying this.’ The admission comes amid a renewed push by Joe Biden and the US to find diplomatic solutions, indicating Mr Zelensky may not have full Western backing for taking back Crimea and the Donbas by force.
NBC News said diplomacy efforts could be stepped up this winter. ‘In the winter, everything slows down,’ NBC quoted one Western official as saying. ‘The potential for talks, we would like to see that happening.’
Ukraine’s armed forces have succeeded in winning back large swathes of large in the northeast Kharkiv region and are closing in on the southern city of Kherson after Russia announced its withdrawal.
Opinion polls by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology have regularly found that 87% of Ukrainians are vehemently against any territorial concessions.