Ukraine Says Russia More Open to Talks Because 'We Put Them in Their Place'

A top Ukrainian official involved in talks aimed at ending the Russian invasion has said Moscow's attitude changed during the war—but any deal may still be months away.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told ABC News there had been a change in Moscow's approach to the daily negotiations.

"We can only state that they have started to look at the world more adequately, that is to realistically look at what the consequences are of this war, first of all for Russia," he told the outlet.

"In the first round of talks, they perceived the situation completely inadequately. They really thought they were right to have attacked Ukraine for no reason."

"It seems to me they really want to resolve some issues in the talks because there is the sanctions pressure from Ukraine, we have already put them in their place."

Podolyak has been leading Ukraine's delegation at the talks that were first held in Belarus and now take place by video link.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose country is helping with the negotiations, said on Friday that Ukraine and Russia had reached an understanding on four out of six main areas of disagreement.

These included NATO, partial disarmament, collective security and the status of the Russian language in Ukraine.

Russia continues to bombard the city of Mariupol, which is facing a humanitarian crisis. However, western analysts say that Russian forces have failed to exert full control over a single major city and their advance has stalled on several fronts.

There was concern that the negotiations were a ploy by the Russians to regroup and revitalize its depleted forces, although this was dismissed by Podolyak, who insisted "there's no attempt to stall for time."

He also took a swipe at the effectiveness of " amorphous structures" such as the UN, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and NATO, which has repeatedly ruled out imposing a no-fly zone.

Instead, he said Kyiv wanted "effective alliances that will make it clear to Russia that it is not necessary to attack Ukraine's borders."

However, Podolyak said that an end to the war could be a "question of days, weeks and months because there are a lot of components."

The timing for ending the war depended on getting from Ukraine's partners for weapons as well as a "really large and powerful" sanctions package, including an oil embargo.

"Then the price of war with Russia will substantially grow," he said.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian foreign ministry for comment.

Ukrainian soldier
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard at a military check point in Kyiv on March 21, 2022. Kyiv’s lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said a peace deal with Moscow could be "months" away. FADEL SENNA/Getty Images