The first telephone conversation between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents opens up prospects for resuming the Normandy negotiations, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s team said in a statement on Facebook.

“Yesterday, Zelensky called the president of the Russian Federation. This is the first step towards resuming the Normandy talks. We hope that the captured sailors and other Ukrainian citizens held in Russia will be released soon,” the statement reads.

On July 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky. According to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the phone call was initiated by Kiev. He noted that the parties “discussed crisis settlement in southeastern Ukraine and joint work on securing the return of individuals held by both sides,” adding that “an agreement has been reached to continue work at the expert level.” The Kremlin spokesman added that Putin and Zelensky also reviewed the possibility of continuing the Normandy negotiations.

That was the first contact between the two presidents after Zelensky took office. Prior to that, they neither had phone or private conversations, nor exchanges of written messages.

On Thursday, Putin said that Moscow was ready for any negotiations on Ukraine, but such meetings should be thoroughly prepared, and a new government has to be formed in Kiev.

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