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Zelensky threatens to refuse negotiations with Russia if "trial" of POWs is held in Mariupol

In a video address on August 22, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine will abandon negotiations with Russia forever if a trial of Ukrainian prisoners of war is held in Mariupol.

Now there are enough media reports that in Mariupol they are preparing the scenery for an absolutely disgusting and absurd trial of Ukrainian defenders, of our soldiers who are prisoners of the occupiers... If this despicable show trial takes place, if our people, are brought into this scenery, in violation of all agreements, all international rules, if there is abuse... This will be the line beyond which any negotiations are impossible. Russia will cut itself off from negotiations. There will be no more conversations. Our state has said everything.

According to Russian and Ukrainian media, a trial is being prepared for fighters of the Azov regiment in Mariupol, which the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) also calls a "tribunal." In early August, Life published a video from the Mariupol Philharmonic, showing that metal cages for the defendants had been installed for the upcoming trial.

Denis Pushilin, head of the DNR, responded by saying that preparations for the trial were coming to an end, and that such statements by Zelensky would have no effect.

The last time the Russian and Ukrainian delegations held face-to-face talks was in late March in Istanbul. At the end of the meeting, both sides claimed to have made some progress in the negotiations. The negotiators then communicated by video link. In May, the delegations suspended negotiations, accusing each other of derailing the process.

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