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'Don't Trust Putin': Ukraine's Former President Warns Successor Volodymyr Zelensky Ahead of Talks

File photo of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Credits: Twitter)

File photo of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Credits: Twitter)

While the Kremlin may share that objective, there are fears in Ukraine that Zelenskiy, a political novice, could give up too much.

  • Agencies
  • Last Updated: December 6, 2019, 5:15 PM IST
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Kiev: Ukraine's former president Petro Poroshenko on Friday warned his successor to never trust anything Russia's Vladimir Putin says and avoid meeting him one-on-one, three days before crunch talks in Paris.

"Don't trust Putin. Ever and in anything. Putin manipulates everything: content, facts, figures, maps, emotions. He hates Ukraine and Ukrainians," Poroshenko, who was defeated by Volodymyr Zelensky in this year's polls, wrote in an editorial.

"I sincerely advise to avoid meeting one-on-one with Putin, and if this is impossible, resist his KGB manipulations and flattery," Poroshenko wrote in Ukrainska Pravda online daily.

Zelensky, a political novice who was inaugurated in May, will meet Putin for the first time on Monday to hold talks on the conflict in Ukraine with mediation from Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron.

The summit is the first since 2016 in this format, and is awaited by some in Ukraine with hope and others with unease and concern that Zelensky may compromise the country's interests when faced with political heavyweight Putin.

Putin last month praised Zelensky as "likeable" and "sincere". His spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday told journalists the Russian leader is headed to Paris with "serious intent" and plans to hold bilateral meetings with the three heads of state, as well as discuss the Ukraine conflict together.

For the new Ukrainian President too, a summit meeting with Russia, France and Germany marks a decisive moment in his push to end more than five years of fighting with Moscow-backed separatists in the eastern part of his country.

In a recent video that he recorded in a gym, Zelenskiy argued that trying to end the bloodshed without speaking directly to Russia was similar to working out on a treadmill. Some say we can do without such dialogue, he said. But it's like running this treadmill you are doing something, you are losing calories, but you remain in place.

The summit comes as a crucial test for Zelenskiy, who also has become embroiled in an impeachment inquiry by the US Congress of President Donald Trump.
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