Kremlin ready for talks with Ukraine in Belarus, Zelensky refuses
A Russian delegation arrives in Belarus to find a diplomatic solution with Ukraine after repeated Russian advice for diplomacy and not war.
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that a Russian delegation has arrived in Belarus for discussions with Ukrainians and is ready to start them in the city of Gomel.
"In accordance with the agreements we made, a Russian delegation, which includes representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and other government agencies, including the presidential administration, has arrived in Belarus for talks with the Ukrainians. We'll be ready to start these talks in Gomel," Peskov told reporters.
Russia is ready for talks and is "waiting for the Ukrainians," the Kremlin Spokesperson said.
According to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, Minsk has prepared everything needed for the talks.
Zelensky refuses diplomacy
On his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that Belarus cannot be the platform for talks with Russia and suggested Budapest, Warsaw, or Istanbul, despite the Kremlin's statement that a Russian delegation has already arrived in Belarus.
"At the moment, we're saying no to Minsk," claiming that a meeting is feasible in other locations. He suggested instead Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, or Baku.
"And any other city will do. In a country, from whose territory the rockets are not flying," Zelensky said in a video address that was published on his Telegram channel.
Russia launched a special operation to demilitarize and "denazify" Ukraine on Thursday, in response to requests from the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics for assistance in combating Ukrainian troops' aggression. The special operation is only targeting Ukrainian military facilities, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, and the civilian population is not at risk. Moscow has stated that it has no intention of occupying Ukraine.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a press conference that the constructive points in the Western response to the security guarantees initiative depend on previous Russian proposals. He had warned that Russia will take retaliatory measures in case no agreement is reached with the West on the principles of ensuring security in Europe.
He pointed out that he does not rule out the presence of sides who want to drag Kiev to war with Moscow, at a time when the former does not control part of its forces, stressing that the war will not erupt if this depends on Russia.
Lavrov added that Washington's adoption of a new sanctions package against Russia would be tantamount to severing relations.
While reiterating Russia's pursuit of diplomacy, he addressed the West saying that to support diplomacy, they must implement their commitments, adding that "the United States and NATO are trying to escape responsibility on security issues."