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Ukraine Crisis: President Zelenskyy says Ukraine seeks peace ‘immediately’ in talks

LVIV, Ukraine – Ukraine could declare neutrality and offer Russia security guarantees to secure peace “immediately”, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said ahead of another expected round of talks between the two sides – although he said it was only a face-to-face meeting with Russia Führer could end the war.

In an interview with independent Russian media, Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine’s priority is to secure its sovereignty and prevent Moscow from partitioning it.

But he added: “Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state – we are ready for it.”

Zelenskyj has hinted at this before, but seldom so vigorously.

Russia has long urged Ukraine to abandon any hope of joining the western NATO alliance, which Moscow sees as a threat. Zelenskyy said that after the withdrawal of Russian troops, the issue of neutrality, which would keep Ukraine away from NATO or other military alliances, should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum.

“We have to come to an agreement with the President of the Russian Federation, and in order to reach an agreement, he has to get out of there on his own … and come to meet me,” he said in an interview Russia banned its media from publishing.

In a late night video address to his nation, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was seeking peace “immediately” in talks due to start in Turkey this week.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday and that the two agreed that the next meeting between Russian and Ukrainian officials should take place in Istanbul.

Turkish media reports that the two teams are expected to arrive on Monday afternoon, with talks expected to start on Tuesday.

Previous negotiations, both by video and in person, have made no headway in ending a more than months-old war that has killed thousands and driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes – including nearly 4 million from their country.

As the war continues to take an enormous toll, Russia’s offensive has stalled in many areas. Their goal of quickly encircling the capital, Kyiv, and forcing its surrender has been thwarted by staunch Ukrainian resistance, backed by US and other Western allies’ arms.

But Zelenskyy has directed increasingly angry pleas for Western countries to do more, including sending in fighter jets, and on Sunday accused political leaders of a lack of courage. NATO-allied countries have been reluctant to give Zelenskyy any of the more powerful equipment he has asked for for fear of triggering a much larger war.

In fact, the invasion of Russia has at least some concern among most Americans that the US could be drawn directly into the conflict and be attacked with nuclear weapons, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It displays a level of fear reminiscent of the Cold War era.

Moscow now says its focus is on securing the entire eastern Donbass region, which has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. A senior Russian military official said on Friday that troops from other parts of the Donbass were being diverted to the east country.

Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, accused Russia of splitting Ukraine in two, comparing it to North and South Korea.

“The occupiers will try to draw the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit them against independent Ukraine,” Budanov said in a statement released by the Defense Ministry. He predicted that a guerrilla war by Ukrainians would derail such plans.

Ukraine has banned coverage of troop and equipment movements not announced or approved by the military. Journalists who break the law face three to eight years in prison. The law does not distinguish between Ukrainian and foreign reporters.

On the road to Kyiv, residents of a village combed through the debris from the ongoing Russian attacks. Locals in Byshiv, about 35 kilometers from Kyiv, went through buildings that had been ripped up and destroyed by shelling to salvage what they could, including books, shelves and framed pictures.

The teacher Svetlana Grybovska stood in a former kindergarten classroom and said that too many children had become victims.

“It’s not right,” Grybovska told British broadcaster Sky News. “Children are not to blame for anything.”

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Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Nebi Qena in Kyiv, Cara Anna in Lviv, and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/ukraine-crisis-president-zelenskyy-russia/11686985/ Ukraine Crisis: President Zelenskyy says Ukraine seeks peace ‘immediately’ in talks

Dais Johnston

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