WASHINGTON DC – US President Donald Trump said on Monday he was ready to take part in negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
The US leader also called the recent release of detainees by both countries a very positive step.
“”I believe the fact that the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine took place…is a very big step, and a very positive step. If they need me to join, I would join [the Normandy format],” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump had previously congratulated Russia and Ukraine on the simultaneous release of prisoners under the Moscow-Kiev agreement.
The mutual release of 35 prisoners by both parties, 70 people in total, took place last Saturday.
From Ukraine to Russia returned, among others, the head of the portal RIA Novosti Ukraina, journalist Kirill Vyshinisky, while the 24 Ukrainian sailors arrested last November for violating the Russian border in the Kerch Strait, as well as those convicted of terrorism Oleg Sentsov and Alexandr Kolchenko and those convicted of espionage Roman Suschenko.
The White House delayed a package of military assistance to the new government in Ukraine, and has yet to schedule a White House meeting for its new president. After abruptly pulling the previous American ambassador out of Kiev when conservatives questioned her political loyalty, President Trump has yet to nominate a successor, the New York times reported.
Publicly, Trump’s administration has suggested that the hiccups in Ukrainian relations are more related to bureaucracy and logistics than to politics.
In private, though, the president has been more adversarial, declaring in May that all Ukrainian politicians are “corrupt,” and that the Ukrainian government “tried to take me down,” according to people familiar with an Oval Office briefing delivered by a United States government delegation that had recently returned from attending Zelensky’s inauguration in Kiev. The delegation had been impressed by Zelensky, and had encouraged Trump to assist the new government, according to NYT.