Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accepted a proposal for talks from Russian President Vladimir Putin and is ready to negotiate peace and a ceasefire, Zelenskyy’s press secretary Sergey Nikiforov said on Saturday.
“I have to refute allegations that we have refused to have talks. Ukraine has always been and is ready to negotiate peace and a ceasefire. It is our permanent position. We have accepted the Russian president’s proposal,” he wrote on his Facebook account.
According to Nikoforov, consultations are currently underway about the place and time of the negotiations. He noted that the sooner the talks for de-escalation begin, the better it is for the eventual restoration of normalcy in the country.
Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier that Putin was prepared to send a delegation to Minsk for conducting talks with Ukraine. Later, he said that in response to the initiative to hold talks in the Belarusian capital city, the Ukrainian side suggested Warsaw as a possible alternative and still later lost contact.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a televised address on Thursday morning that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbas republics, he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to liberate people “who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years”. He was careful to imply that this was not an act of Russian imperialism, as is being interpreted by “Western sources”.
Putin stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories. When clarifying the unfolding developments, the Russian Defense Ministry reassured that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities or the populations that they house, but are limited to surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure. There are no threats whatsoever to the civilian population, the Ministry assured.
On Facebook, however, Ukraine’s Health Minister on Saturday wrote that 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed so far by Russian forces attacking the pro-Western country. “Unfortunately, according to operative data, at the hands of the invaders we have 198 dead, including 3 children, 1,115 wounded, including 33 children,” he wrote.