In picture above: Servicemen of the Ukrainian National Guard take positions in central Kyiv, Ukraine February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Russia is ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, a day after Moscow launched a massive invasion of its southern neighbour.
Peskov told Russian news agencies that Russia was willing to send a delegation including foreign and defence ministry officials.
Ukraine has said it is willing to discuss declaring itself a neutral county. Peskov said demilitarisation would need to be an essential part of that.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Friday that Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding NATO, .
“If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this,” he said via a text message. “We can talk about that as well.”
“Our readiness for dialogue is part of our persistent pursuit of peace.”
Ukraine currently is not part of NATO or the European Union, though it wants to join both, anathema to its former overlord Moscow.
Ukraine gave up its nuclear arms, after gaining independence on the breakup of the Soviet Union, in exchange for security guarantees from European countries.
In another development, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a call on Friday that Russia is willing to hold high level talks with Ukraine, China’s foreign ministry said.
China has refused to call Russia’s action in Ukraine an “invasion” or criticise Moscow despite intensifying assaults from Russia’s military.
Putin told Xi that the United States and NATO had long ignored Russia’s legitimate security concerns, repeatedly reneged on their commitments, and continued to expand military deployment eastward, challenging Russia’s strategic bottom line, according to a statement on the Chinese foreign ministry website.
Russia is willing to conduct high-level negotiations with Ukraine, Putin was cited as saying.
China has repeatedly called for the crisis to be resolved through dialogue. (REUTERS)