Volodymyr Zelensky is discussing a possible ceasefire with the Kremlin despite warning that Russian troops will try to capture Kyiv by the end of the night.
The Ukrainian president is talking with the Russian government in the first signs of a potential negotiations between the warring countries, his spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said on social media.
The governments are discussing a time and place for the talks.
Volodymyr Zelensky is discussing a possible ceasefire with the Kremlin despite warning that Russian troops will try to capture Kyiv by the end of the night
The Kremlin said earlier on Friday it had offered to meet with Ukrainian officials in the Belarusian capital Minsk
The Kremlin said earlier on Friday it had offered to meet with Ukrainian officials in the Belarusian capital Minsk, but that Ukraine had instead proposed Warsaw as a venue, resulting in a ‘pause’ in contacts.
Nykyforov said: ‘I must refute the allegations that we have refused to negotiate. Ukraine has been and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace. This is our constant position.
‘We agreed to a proposal of the president of the Russian Federation. During these hours, consultations are underway between the parties on the venue and time of the negotiation process.
‘The sooner negotiations begin, the more chances there are to return to normal life.’
But U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia’s offer of talks was an attempt to conduct diplomacy ‘at the barrel of a gun’, and that President Vladimir Putin’s military must stop bombing Ukraine if it was serious about negotiations.
The overtures stood in stark contrast to events unfolding on the ground and Putin’s harsh rhetoric against Ukrainian leaders, including a call for a coup by the country’s military.
Zelensky said on Saturday before dawn that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city Kyiv during the night.
Zelensky said on Saturday before dawn that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city Kyiv during the night
People look at the exterior of a damaged residential block hit by an early morning missile strike in the capital
Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence square in central Kyiv
‘Special attention on Kyiv – we cannot lose the capital,’ Zelensky said in a video address released by the presidency.
‘Tonight they will attempt a storm’ of the capital, he added in an apparent reference to Kyiv.
Residents were told by the defence ministry to make petrol bombs to repel the invaders, and on Friday evening witnesses reported hearing artillery rounds and intense gunfire from the western part of the city.
Zelensky filmed himself with aides on the streets of the capital, vowing to defend Ukraine’s independence.
While Russian special forces have reached the suburbs of Kyiv, the bulk of Russia’s heavy armour is believed to be still more than 50km away from the capital.
Western officials have suggested Russia will kill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his ministers if they seize Kyiv.
Soldiers tasked with defending Kyiv from advancing Russian troops take up positions underneath a highway into the city
Ukrainian soldiers are pictured forming up across a highway in Kyiv as they prepare to defend the city from Russian attackers, with gunfire and explosions heard in the centre of the capital
Some families cowered in shelters after Kyiv was pounded on Thursday night by Russian missiles.
Others tried desperately to get on packed trains headed west, some of the hundreds of thousands who have left their homes to find safety, according to the United Nations’ aid chief.
After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Putin unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south on Thursday, in an attack that threatened to upend Europe’s post-Cold War order.
‘I once again appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and elders as human shields,’ Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia’s Security Council on Friday. ‘Take power into your own hands, it will be easier for us to reach agreement.’
Putin has cited the need to ‘denazify’ Ukraine’s leadership as one of his main reasons for invasion, accusing it of genocide against Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss the accusations as baseless propaganda.
The White House said the United States would impose sanctions on both Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – moves coordinated with the European Union and Britain. However, the steady ramping-up of restrictions has not deterred Russia.