Putin: Ukraine wasted "opportunity" for dialogue
As Ukrainian forces continue to attack the Lugansk People's Republic, the Russian President has said Ukraine wasted the opportunity for dialogue.
After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Belarus cannot be the platform for talks with Russia and suggested Budapest instead, the Russian President criticized the Ukrainian authority for wasting an opportunity to conduct a dialogue.
According to a statement by the Kremlin, during a call with Naftali Bennett, President Vladimir Putin said the Russian delegation is in the Belarus city of Gomel and is ready for negotiations with representatives of Kiev, who, showing inconsistency, have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity.
Following reports that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asked "Israel" to host talks, Bennett's office said he and Putin discussed the situation and proposed that the occupation act as a mediator.
Bennett and Zelensky reportedly spoke on Friday.
Zelensky refuses diplomacy
"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.