President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky invited President of Russia Vladimir Putin to hold talks on the situation in Donbas in Minsk.
In his video statement on Facebook, Zelensky noted that the meeting should also involve the representatives of the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
“I would like to appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Do we need to talk? Yes, we do. Let’s discuss whom Crimea belongs to and who is not there in the Donbas.
I suggest the following company: me, You, the U.S. President Donald Trump, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President of France Emmanuel Macron.
Place? I think Alexander Lukashenko would gladly host us in Minsk. We are not changing or rejecting any diplomatic format. We are offering to talk,” Zelensky said.
Lukashenko: Total support
Belarus president has already affirmatively reacted to the proposal of Vladimir Zelensky.
“This position remains unchanged: you cannot look at each other through the scope of a weapon. You need to sit down at the negotiating table and address numerous pending issues,” the message released by the press service reads.
“With regard to the proposals concerning the participants of the meeting, all remember that the Belarusian president has repeatedly said that it was us, the three Slavic nations, that should solve this problem. Not the Europeans, not the Americans, but for us if we do not want it to turn into a frozen conflict like other hot spots in the post-Soviet space.”
“Regarding the venue of the meeting… There are no two ways about it: the war is at our doorstep, and it has always been an honor for Minsk to host peace initiatives and negotiations.”
Belarusian MFA confirmed its readiness to make every effort to hold the talks at the highest level.
Moscow: We will consider the request
Kremlin said they would consider the proposal of Ukraine’s leader.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he could not respond to Zelensky’s request immediately and called the proposal an “absolutely new format.”
Peskov added: “This is a new initiative. Of course, it will be considered, but so far I can’t express any reaction.”
However, the Russian side doubts that the USA needs to participate.
“The United States is not part of the Normandy format, and what would happen with the Minsk agreements that were signed by the participants in the peace process (where the USA weren’t involved – BelarusFeed note),” Dmitry Peskov remarked.
Zelenskiy and Putin have never met, but during his inaugural address in May, the Ukrainian president vowed that resolving his country’s conflict with Russia would be his top priority.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in March 2014. The first meeting in the Normandy format took place in Minsk in February 2015 with negotiations lasting for more than fifteen hours.
The talks were attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. The most important outcome of the negotiations was the cease-fire.