"All the partners of Ukraine were against me even calling Putin. I decided to call Putin because this question concerns, first and foremost, Ukraine and our citizens. Therefore, we ourselves have to thank our Western partners for their support, but we should have our own opinion. This is why I called Vladimir Putin. Everyone frightened me with this conversation. [...] But I spoke about our people. Why should you be afraid when the truth is on your side?" Zelenskyi said.
According to him, during the conversation, the Russian president proposed resolving the issue of the release of prisoners in the "all for all" format.
"I told him frankly that I accept the 'all for all' [format] with pleasure, but there is only one situation. [...] The point is that the list of all of our guys who stay in temporarily occupied territories does not coincide with the list from those who are controlling our temporarily occupied territories. So we will definitely accept the 'all for all' format, but let us first return all those who stay in Russia, in Crimea, and let us start with the sailors. It seems to me that this is a normal step towards returning the dialogue and a real powerful step towards stopping the war," Zelenskyi said.
At the same time, he said he did not understand a model that excludes direct talks with the Russian leadership on the release of hostages and the cessation of the armed conflict in Donbas.
"Everyone says that if, God forbid, there are direct negotiations with Russia, sanctions will be lifted. I honestly don't understand this model. I was sure that sanctions were imposed not due to my conversations with the president of the Russian Federation, but due to the fact that they took away Crimea from us and are supporting temporarily occupied territories," Zelenskyi said.