Russia is ready to talk to Ukraine if it ‘lays down arms’, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been quoted as saying by news agency AFP. Lavrov also said that Moscow did not want ‘neo-Nazis’ to govern Ukraine. He declared that Russia only wants the Ukrainian people to be independent and be allowed to freely define their destiny.
The Russian minister also accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of lying when he said he was ready to discuss the neutral status of the former Soviet member.
And in comments that underline the bitter and hostile nature of Russia’s aggression, Lavrov said Russia sees no possibility of recognising the current Ukrainian government as democratic.
Russia invaded Ukraine in a widely condemned move late Wednesday and early Thursday, after President Vladimir Putin declared war in the biggest attack on a European nation since World War II.
At least 137 people, including civilians were killed on the first day of fighting, with both Russia and Ukraine claiming some destruction of the other’s military capabilities.
Fighting has worsened today, with reports that Russian ground forces, including tanks and missile launchers, are closing in on Ukraine capital Kyiv from the north and the northeast. Russian forces have launched powerful attacks – by land and air – that have pummelled Ukraine’s defences.
Explosions sounded before dawn in Kyiv and gunfire was reported in several areas.
Ukraine military has also claimed the presence of Russian spies in the capital’s outskirts, with local police, at one point, detaining civilians in an underground metro station because of gunfire outside.
Ukraine President Zelenskiy has made multiple heartfelt appeals to the global community – whose response is being seen as led by the United States – to intervene and aid his country.
“If you don’t help us now… if you fail to offer a powerful assistance to Ukraine… tomorrow the war will knock on your door,” he said after snapping diplomatic ties with Moscow.
Zelenskiy has declared martial law and ordered a full military mobilization of his country’s forces and, in a desperate attempt, has also urged citizens to take up arms against Russian soldiers.
With input from AFP