(Kiev) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky on Saturday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet to “end the war.”
Released at 1:13 p.m.
Updated at 1:43 p.m.
“I think whoever started this war can bring it to an end,” he said. Zhelensky told a news conference inside a metro station in Kiev that he was “not afraid to meet” (Mr. Putin) if it would lead to a peace. Agreement between Russia and Ukraine.
“I have insisted from the beginning that we negotiate with the Russian president,” he recalled. Add: “I do not want to (meet him), I have to meet him to resolve this conflict through diplomatic means”.
“We trust our allies, but we do not trust Russia,” he said.
The Ukrainian president has warned that he would abandon talks with Moscow if Ukrainian soldiers stationed at the Azovstalin vast metallurgical complex in Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine, were killed by Russian forces.
“If our people are killed in Mariupol and fake polls are held in the Kerson area (south, author’s note), Ukraine will withdraw from any negotiation process,” he said.
He also said that he was “ready” to expel “those in dire straits”, “in any form”, “for the exchange of our soldiers who will defend Mariupol”.
He noted that the “last contact” with the soldiers, who were rooted in the underground passages of the vast Azovstel factory, was “an hour ago.”
He said “today is one of the hardest days” since the start of the Russian siege on Mariupol in early March.
Sunday Blinken Tour
The Ukrainian president also announced on Saturday that US diplomat Antony Blinken would visit Kyiv on Sunday, two days after the start of the Russian invasion.
“Tomorrow, US officials will come to our house: I will meet with the Secretary of Defense (Lloyd Austin) and Anthony Blingen,” Zhelensky told a news conference at a metro station in central Kiev. This is the first official visit by US government officials to Ukraine since February 24.