Ukraine's Leader Issues Invitation to Putin

'Let's sit down,' says Zelensky, but Kremlin is imposing tough conditions for talks
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2022 1:10 PM CST
Ukraine Leader to Putin: 'Let's Sit Down'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a news conference in Kyiv in this file photo.   (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – For awhile on Friday, headlines were flying around about possible talks between Ukraine and Russia. But instead of clarifying, the possibility of such negotiations has since become mired in confusion and uncertainty. This all began when Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Vladimir Putin in a video on Friday: “There are fights all over the country," he said, per the Washington Post. "Let’s sit down.” A Kremlin spokesman responded by saying Russia was willing to send a delegation to Belarus for a sit-down, provided Ukraine would agree to "demilitarization" as one of the pre-conditions, per the BBC.

Zelensky had said he was "not afraid" to discuss a possible "neutral status" for Ukraine, perhaps one in which it would pledge not to join NATO, but he gave no sign he would consider demilitarization, notes the BBC. The AP puts it this way: "The Kremlin accepted Kyiv's offer to hold talks, but it appeared to be an effort to squeeze concessions out of Ukraine's embattled president instead of a gesture toward a diplomatic solution." Adding to the uncertainty: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov then suggested that it was too late for talks and that Zelensky should have agreed to them earlier. As of Friday afternoon, it appeared the two sides had stopped communicating about the idea, per the New York Times. (Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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