Volodymyr Zelenskiy
Volodymyr ZelenskiyReuters

With negotiations between Ukraine and Russia set to commence, according to most accounts, on Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is not optimistic regarding their outcome.

Russia initially demanded preconditions to talks that were tantamount to full surrender, including a halt to all fighting by Ukrainian forces, a demilitarized Ukraine, and the "deNazificiation" of the country. Ukraine refused to negotiate under such conditions, and also objected to Russia's proposal to hold talks in Belarus, where many Russian forces are based and from where, according to some accounts, missiles have been launched into Ukraine.

Ultimately, Russia agreed to talks without preconditions; Ukraine, for its part, agreed to hold talks on its border with Belarus.

In a speech broadcast on Sunday, Zelenskiy admitted that he was not confident that any progress would be made, but he insisted that he would nonetheless make the attempt.

“I’ll say frankly, like always, that I don’t believe in the result of this meeting,” he said. “But let’s try, so that no citizen of Ukraine will have any doubt that I, as President, tried to stop the war when there was even a [slight] chance.”

Other world leaders have voiced similar skepticism, including UK leader PM Boris Johnson.

"There's nothing I've seen so far in Putin's behaviour that leads me to think that he could possibly be sincere," Johnson said on Sunday evening, adding that "the only way" the conflict will end, in his opinion, is with an independent Ukraine.