Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has this evening called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to sit down with him at the negotiating table in person during another impassioned television appearance.
Zelensky’s comments came as Putin’s forces continued their assault on several of Ukraine’s cities, and on the same day negotiations between the two sides made little progress in deescalating the deadly war.
In an appeal to his Russian counterpart, Zelensky said: ‘Get off our land. You don’t want to leave now? Then sit down with me at the negotiation table. I’m available. Sit. Just not 30 metres away like with Macron or Scholz etc. I am your neighbour. You don’t need to keep me 30 metres away.
‘I don’t bite. I’m a normal bloke. Sit down with me and talk. What are you afraid of? We aren’t threatening anyone, we’re not terrorists, we aren’t seizing banks and seizing foreign land.’
Earlier today, Putin branded Ukrainians ‘extreme gangsters’, claimed their army is using civilians as ‘human shields’, hailed his soldiers as heroes who are fighting to save innocent lives and said his invasion is going exactly to plan and schedule.
The Russian leader denied that his troops are deliberately targeting civilians, and instead blamed ‘neo-Nazis’ holding citizens hostage.
Referring to the invasion as a ‘special operation’ aimed only at protecting the eastern Donbass region, he acknowledged that some Russian forces including a senior commander had died in the fighting – but claimed the officer had blown himself up in a heroic act of sacrifice while taking out several Ukrainian soldiers.
Zelensky’s subsequent comments came in during a press conference in Kyiv and in response to a reporter’s question on what ‘guarantees’ Ukraine can offer.
‘Guarantees for what?’ Zelensky fired back at the interviewer in Russian. ‘We aren’t attacking Russia and we have no intention of doing so. Guarantee what? We aren’t in NATO. We don’t have nuclear weapons. What am I supposed to say, what am I supposed to give, and to whom?
‘You must understand – this is also a huge thing that everybody is talking about – what am I supposed to give? Jesus, what do you want from us?!’
It came after NATO members ruled out enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine for fear of igniting World War Three.
‘If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!’ Zelensky told a news conference. ‘If we are no more then, God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next,’ he said, adding that direct talks with Putin were ‘the only way to stop this war’.
This is an excerpt from the Daily Mail.
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