Ukraine proposed talks, then ‘disappeared’ – Kremlin
Ukraine had agreed to negotiate with Russia, picking the Polish capital of Warsaw as the site for talks, then “ghosted” Moscow as it began deploying rocket artillery inside civilian neighborhoods of major cities, the Kremlin claimed on Friday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said early in the day he was willing to talk with Russia to stop the “invasion” of Ukraine. The Kremlin had communicated Russia’s terms for ending the military operation aimed at “demilitarizing and denazifying” Kiev.
“The Ukrainian side said it had reconsidered the idea of holding talks in Minsk, chose Warsaw instead, and then disappeared,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday evening.
Peskov pointed out that the sudden pause came as “nationalist elements” began deploying multiple rocket launcher systems in residential areas of major Ukrainian cities, which Russia warned could lead to civilian casualties that Moscow has been trying to avoid.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that it had prepared a delegation for peace talks with Kiev, which President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko agreed to host in Minsk. Dialogue depended on the “responsible behavior of Kiev,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cautioned.
Moving the talks to Warsaw would present a problem, as Poland announced on Friday it would close its airspace to all Russian flights.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin called on the Ukrainian military to take control and not allow the nationalists in Kiev to use their families as human shields.
“Take the power into your own hands!” the Russian president said, adding that the army would be a better negotiating partner than “a bunch of drug addicts and neo-Nazis” who he claimed have “entrenched themselves in Kiev,” and are holding the people of Ukraine “hostage.”
The Russian military operation began early on Thursday following requests from the newly recognized Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics for aid under their mutual treaties with Moscow. The DPR and LPR, which Russia recognized as independent states this week, claimed that they were facing an imminent all-out attack, while Kiev insisted it was not planning to retake the area by force. Putin insisted the military operation was the only choice left after Kiev abandoned the internationally-brokered Minsk agreements, which not only required it to observe a ceasefire, but also to give the Donbass region more autonomy.