Ukraine and Russia are in “consultations” to set up a venue and a time for negotiations on a ceasefire, a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday as Russia’s assault continues.
Earlier in the day, the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “ready” to send a delegation to Belarus to hold talks with Ukraine. The Kremlin later said that Ukraine suggested Warsaw, Poland, as a venue.
“We responded in agreement to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation. Directly at these hours, the parties are consulting about the place and time of the negotiation process,” Zelensky’s spokesman Serhiy Nykyforov wrote on Facebook.
At one point in the day, the Kremlin said contacts between the two countries were on “pause.” Some news outlets took this as Russia accusing Ukraine of refusing to negotiate, which Nykyforov denied. “I have to refute the claims that we have refused to negotiate. Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about ceasefire and peace,” he said.
Russia has made clear that one of its main justifications for its assault on Ukraine is the country’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.”
After the first day of fighting, Zelensky appeared to be accepting the fact that NATO wasn’t coming to help and said NATO countries were “afraid.” Early on Friday, he said the US “looked on from a distance” as Ukraine was attacked and left alone. But later in the day, he spoke with President Biden, who assured him the US would increase support for Kyiv.
State Department spokesman Ned Price discouraged Ukraine from talking with Russia during a press briefing. “Now we see Moscow suggesting that diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun … This is not real diplomacy. Those are not the conditions for real diplomacy,” Price said.
“This is the question of whether diplomacy can succeed under these conditions. We do not think it can,” Price later added.
The Pentagon said the US wants to send more weapons to Ukraine and is looking at ways to do so. The White House asked Congress for $6.4 billion to be spent on military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and other countries in the region.