News from Ukraine: Seek peace ‘without delay’, says Zelensky

LVIV, UKRAINE —
Ukraine could declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia to secure peace “without delay”, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said ahead of another expected round of talks between the two sides – although he said that only a face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader could end. the war.

In an interview with independent Russian media, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine’s priority was to secure its sovereignty and prevent Moscow from carving it up.

But, he added: “Guarantees of security and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state – we are ready to go.”

Zelensky has suggested the same thing before, but rarely with such force.

Russia has long demanded that Ukraine give up hope of joining the Western NATO alliance, which Moscow sees as a threat. Zelensky said the question of neutrality, which would keep Ukraine out of NATO or other military alliances, should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after the withdrawal of Russian troops.

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

In an overnight video address to his nation, Zelensky said Ukraine was seeking peace “without delay” in talks due to begin this week in Turkey.

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

Turkish media report that the two teams are expected to arrive on Monday afternoon, with talks expected to begin in full on Tuesday.

Previous negotiations, both by video and in person, have failed to bring an end to a month-old war that has killed thousands, driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes, including nearly 4 million from their country.

As the war continues to take its toll, the Russian offensive has stalled in many areas. His aim to quickly encircle the capital, kyiv, and force its surrender failed in the face of Ukrainian resistance, bolstered by arms from the United States and other Western allies.

But Zelensky made increasingly exasperated calls for Western countries to do more, including sending in fighter jets, accusing political leaders on Sunday of lacking courage. The NATO alliance countries were reluctant to give Zelensky some of the most powerful equipment he demanded for fear of starting a much larger war.

In fact, Russia’s invasion worries at least most Americans that the United States is being drawn directly into the conflict and could be a target of nuclear weapons, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It shows a level of anxiety reminiscent of the Cold War era.

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

Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, accused Russia of seeking to split Ukraine in two, drawing the comparison with North Korea and South Korea.

“The occupiers will try to transform 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 Ukrainian-led guerrilla warfare would derail these plans.

Ukraine has banned reports of troop and equipment movements not announced or approved by the military. Journalists who break the law risk three to eight years in prison. The law does not differentiate between Ukrainian and foreign journalists.

On the road to kyiv, residents of a village comb through the rubble of ongoing Russian attacks. Residents of Byshiv, about 35 kilometers from kyiv, walked through torn and shell-destroyed buildings to salvage what they could, including books, shelves and framed photos.

Standing in what was once a kindergarten classroom, teacher Svetlana Grybovska said too many children had been victimized.

“It’s not right,” Grybovska told UK broadcaster Sky News. “Children are not guilty of anything.”

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

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