Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky's offer to meet in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, as part of the peace talks.
Putin announced this during a press briefing with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
According to him, the incumbent Ukrainian authorities have allegedly taken many steps to destroy bilateral relations with Russia. In particular, he mentioned the alleged curbs on the use of the Russian language in Ukraine, "an attempt to destroy" the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and he said he "stood up" for the rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens.
"There have been many steps aimed at destroying our relations, which we can only regret. But if President Zelensky wanted to start restoring these relations, we would only welcome it," Putin said.
Putin advised Zelensky should discuss the Donbas issue with chiefs of illegal armed formations, and said Moscow could be directly contacted only if other topics are involved.
"What do we want to discuss at this meeting? If we are talking about discussing the problems of Donbas, then, first of all, the Ukrainian leaders should meet with heads of the 'republics,' and only then discuss problems with representatives of third countries. If we are talking about bilateral relations, then we will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him," Putin said.
Zelensky invites Putin to meet
- Speaking in a video address on the evening of April 20, 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed that talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin be held in Donbas.
- On April 22, 2021, the spokesman for the Russian president said that Putin had been informed about Zelensky's offer.