Ukraine's Zelensky dismisses Russian claims of scaleback

Kyiv ready for talks, but rejects Moscow’s Belarus proposal


KIEV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday he was ready for talks with Russia, but rejected Moscow’s push for talks in Belarus, which is a launching pad for invading forces.

“Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku. We proposed all of them,” Zelensky said in an address posted online.

“And any other city in a country from whose territory missiles do not fly would suit us,” the 44-year-old president said.

“That’s the only way talks can be honest. And could put an end to war.”

Zelensky’s address came as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that Moscow was prepared for talks and had dispatched a delegation to the Belarusian city of Gomel.

“We will be ready to begin these talks in Gomel,” Peskov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, killing about 200 civilians and drawing global condemnation.

Moscow has said Kiev’s forces must surrender and the country should agree to become “neutral” territory, conditions that Ukraine generally considers unacceptable.

Western sources said Russian ground forces advancing toward Ukraine from the north, east and south were met with fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces that could surprise Moscow with the intensity.

Putin congratulated members of the special forces on Sunday, saying they fought “heroically” in Ukraine.

“Special gratitude to those who these days are heroically fulfilling their military duty in the course of a special operation to provide assistance to the people’s republics of Donbas,” Putin said in a televised address.

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