Facing deadlock over Crimean prisoners swap,  Ukraine should reach out to Russia  for ‘direct talks with Putin’,

said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in an exclusive interview  for Crimean journalists.

‘All [prisoners’ exchange] lists have been prepared by our ombudsperson. The issue of political prisoners is the most important thing for us. Unfortunately, it has stalled. Today, apart from direct talks with the President of Russia on Crimean prisoners, I see no other way out’, said Zelensky,  that Russia refuses to make jailed Crimean activists part of the general prisoners’ exchange deal.

He admitted Ukraine is ‘not doing enough’ in that regard failing to engage ‘European courts’.  The president stressed Ukraine will use upcoming ‘Crimean Platform’ forum to address the issue and find ‘new solutions’ to free jailed Crimeans.

Zelensky called on leaders of other countries to step up pressure on the Russian president to help ‘bring back Crimeans’.

‘Crimean Platform’

On September 23, 2020, during a speech at the UN General Assembly, President Volodymyr Zelensky invited the leaders of the UN member states to join the creation of an international platform to discuss de-occupation of Crimea.

In March, the President approved the ‘Strategy for the de-occupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied Crimea’.

According to the Strategy, Ukraine is initiating an international negotiation process on the liberation of Crimea and restoration of the Ukrainian constitutional order in this territory.

This document is a call to unite international efforts to protect international law and build peace and security in Europe.

Now, the Cabinet of Ministers must develop a plan for the implementation of the de-occupation Strategy, based on which the state bodies of Ukraine will prepare and put in force appropriate steps.