Leader of Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev believes that direct talks with Russian President Putin may disrepute Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, thus, negotiations must hold only within the Normandy Four.
His statements came in an interview with Ukrainian news site Obztravatel published on Tuesday.
"I asked Zelensky whether he could meet with Putin in Crimea back in 2019. He replied that this was out of the question since it is an occupied territory. I don't think he has changed his point of view since then," Dzhemilev told.
The Crimean Tatar leader emphasised the inconveniency of any bilateral meeting with Putin, calling the idea "some kind of absurdity."
"A tete-a-tete meeting is completely undesirable. It would yield no result. It would lead to the humiliation of our president [Volodymyr Zelensky]. Most likely, he would simply be discredited after such a meeting," he stated.
Calling it a "manic desire" to look Putin in the eye, Dzhemilev said, "But what is there to look [into Putin's eyes]? There is emptiness. Such things damage the image of Ukraine. Our Western partners are beginning to grin cynically about this."
He stressed that there is nothing to discuss with the Russian president, since Crimea is occupied and [Ukrainian] citizens are being killed [by Russia].
According to him, only a meeting within the framework of the Normandy Four is possible, preferably with the participation of the United States.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video address published on April 20, called Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold a meeting in the Donbas region. Stating that the parties approach the issues differently, Zelensky argued that the situation could cease to be a permanent problem with ensured dialogue.
On April 22, Putin said he was ready to meet with Zelensky in Moscow, but he added that the issue of ending the war in eastern Ukraine would be discussed only after the Ukrainian authorities hold talks with Russia-backed separatist's so-called leaders in Eastern Ukraine.
Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in the eastern Ukrainian region Donbas has left more than 13,000 people dead since 2014, when Moscow invaded Crimea and the conflict began in Eastern Ukraine.