The Kremlin said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “ready” for talks with Ukraine and offered to send a delegation to Belarus as the Russian attack continued for a second day.
Later, the Kremlin said Ukraine suggested Warsaw, Poland, as the venue for the negotiations. Now, Russia claims it hasn’t heard anything more from the Ukrainians. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there is currently a “pause” in contact between the two sides.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement calling for talks with Putin. “I would like to address the President of the Russian Federation once again. Fighting is going on all over Ukraine. Let’s sit down at the negotiating table to stop the deaths of people,” he said.
The Russians have made clear that their main justification for the invasion is Ukraine’s alignment with NATO. Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Zelensky, told Reuters that Kyiv is ready to hold talks with Russia on Ukraine’s “neutral status.”
“If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this,” Podolyak said. “We can talk about that as well.”
Putin spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday and told him that Russia is ready for talks with Ukraine. “Russia is ready to negotiate with the Ukrainian side at a high level,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the call.
While Putin said he’s ready talks, the assault continues, and he also appealed to the Ukrainian military to overthrow the government in Kyiv, which he called a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.