Ukraine says it stands firm on recognition of 1991 borders

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Ukraine?s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivers a video address to senators and members of the House of Representatives gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger/Pool

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  • Ukraine and Russia are holding peace talks
  • Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014
  • Russia recognised two Ukrainian regions as independent

LVIV, Ukraine, March 17 (Reuters) - Ukraine's president has not altered his stance that his country's borders must be recognised as the frontiers it had at the time of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, an aide said on Thursday.

The comments by political adviser Oleksiy Arestovych appeared designed to douse any talk of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy allowing border changes to secure a deal with Russia to end its invasion of its neighbour. read more

Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Russia has recognised declarations of independence by the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass area of eastern Ukraine which rose up against Kyiv's rule.

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Those two regions and Crimea were part of Ukraine when it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and continue to be recognised by the United Nations as part of Ukraine.

Zelenskiy has said repeatedly that he will not compromise on his country's "territorial integrity." read more

"His main position has not changed," Arestovych said on national television. "We will never give up our national interests."

Another presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, outlined Ukraine's position in an interview with Polish media.

"One of the key issues (for a peace agreement) remains how to resolve territorial issues in the occupied Crimea and Donbass," Podolyak said in a copy of the interview released by the Ukrainian presidency.

"Regarding the occupied territories, Ukraine's position remains unchanged: the country's borders cannot be changed. However, I believe that we must be sober in our judgments. De jure, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk remain part of Ukraine, but we do not de facto control them, the Russian administration works there." He said efforts were being made to find "a legal formula" but did not say what this would entail.

Podolyak also hinted at increased signs of readiness to compromise by Russia, which calls its military actions a "special operation" that is not designed to occupy territory but to demilitarise and "denazify" Ukraine.

"I can say that the Russian delegation has softened sharply recently. Now they judge the world more objectively and behave very correctly. There is no rudeness or rudeness inherent in the Russian government. Of course, their world view is distorted by their own propaganda," Podolyak said.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Writing by Alessandra Prentice, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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