Zelenskyy and Putin had one phone call, but their teams put out two very different press releases about it
On November 18, the Russian government returned the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the Yany Kapu to Ukraine a year after the three ships were seized as material evidence in a border violation case. Kyiv complained that all of the vessels’ equipment had been removed, including “ceiling lamps, electrical outlets, and toilets.” The Russian Federal Security Service responded that the ships had been returned “in normal condition and with functional sanitary equipment.”
On November 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. While both of their press teams issued summaries of the call, Kyiv and Moscow appeared to interpret the conversation very differently.
The reason for the call
Kyiv: [no summary given]
Moscow: “[The call took place] with the December 9, 2019, Paris summit in mind. The summit has been planned in the ‘Normandy format’ on the Ukrainian side’s initiative.”
The central topic of the conversation
Kyiv: “Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the necessity of returning all of the arms, equipment, and documentation that were located on these ships.”
Moscow: “The conversation touched upon the situation surrounding the transfer of three military ships.”
What was said about natural gas
Kyiv: “The conversation also touched upon the question of three-way natural gas negotiations among Ukraine, Russia, and the EU.”
Moscow: “Gas policy issues were discussed in depth, including the question of continuing the transport and renewing the direct delivery of Russian gas into the Ukraine.”
And one more glitch
The link to the Kremlin’s summary of the call was on a section of its website dedicated to Zelenskyy. It turns out that the photograph on that site was actually an image of Zelenskyy playing fictional Ukrainian President Vasily Holoborodko, the television character who ultimately helped launch the real head of state into his new political career. Several hours after this article was initially published in Russian, the photograph was replaced.
Translation by Hilah Kohen