Conflict can be settled only through talks, insists Ukrainian President Zelensky - GulfToday

Conflict can be settled only through talks, insists Ukrainian President Zelensky


Valentyna reacts in front of her house that was destroyed by a missile in Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukrain, on Saturday. Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called again for a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in an effort to “put an end to the war.”

“I think that whoever started this war will be able to end it,” he told a news conference at a metro station in the heart of the Ukrainian capital, adding that he was “not afraid to meet” Putin if it would lead to a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.

Zelensky-pressconference Volodymyr Zelensky arrives at a news conference at a metro station in Kyiv. Reuters

“From the beginning, I have insisted on talks with the Russian president,” he said. “It’s not that I want (to meet him), it’s that I have to meet him so as to settle this conflict by diplomatic means. “We have confidence in our partners, but we have no confidence in Russia,” he added.

Zelensky also repeated his warning that they would break off talks if Russia killed the remaining Ukrainian soldiers in the besieged Black Sea port of Mariupol.

Ukrainemourners A mother of an Ukrainian army officer, who was killed in battle in Vasylivka, reacts during his funeral at the town of Marhanets, in Zaporizhzhia. Reuters

“If our men are killed in Mariupol and if these pseudo-referendums are organised in the (southern) region of Kherson, then Ukraine will withdraw from any negotiation process,” he said.

He was ready to exchange Ukraine’s soldiers defending the city “in whatever format” to save “these people who find themselves in a horrible situation, surrounded.”

Ukraine-rescuers Emergency service workers rescue a person after a missile strike in Odesa Oblast. Reuters

He said the “last contact” with the Mariupol soldiers had been an hour ago, he said, adding “today is one of the hardest days” since the start of the Russian siege of the city at the beginning of March.

Ukraine’s president says he will meet on Sunday in Kyiv with the US secretary of state and secretary of defence.

Zelensky spoke of the plans on Saturday during a press conference. He did not immediately share more detail about the visit from Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin. The White House declined to comment on Saturday.

Kharkiv-blast A firefighter runs as he participates in efforts to extinguish a fire that broke out in a steel warehouse in Kharkiv. Reuters

Zelensky said on Saturday that Ukraine’s army was not ready to try to break through Russia’s siege of Mariupol by force, but that Kyiv had every right to try and do so.

Ukrainian officials accused Russia of thwarting a fresh attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol and killing six people in a strike on Odessa, all but burying hopes of a truce for Orthodox Easter.

With the war poised to enter its third month on Sunday, Ukrainian authorities said “fierce battles” were raging in the east and the United Nations said nearly 5.2 million people had fled the country.

Ukraine-flee-mothersons People leave a residential area following shelling on the outskirts of Kharkiv. AFP

Around 200 residents gathered at an evacuation meeting point announced by Kyiv in Mariupol on Saturday but they were “dispersed” by Russian forces, city official Petro Andryushchenko said on Telegram, adding: “The evacuation was thwarted.”

He claimed others had been told to board buses headed to places controlled by Russia. The strategic city has been devastated by weeks of intense Russian bombardment.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had said earlier that Ukraine would try again to evacuate women, children and the elderly from the city - pivotal to Russia’s war plans, and which the Kremlin claims to have “liberated.”


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