Member of the Verkhovna Rada Ilya Kiva says that the Ukrainian government has missed opportunities to negotiate with Russia, calling the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky a “criminal” for introducing martial law and inciting hate.
In his video address, posted in Telegram on Sunday, Kiva said, “Zelensky is a criminal. He also knew about the start of the military operation in advance, but did not use the opportunity for negotiations. On the contrary, he introduced martial law, pushing people to certain death,” he said.
The lawmaker criticized the current government for “doing everything to make the evacuation of Kievans impossible.” He insisted that that “thousand of guns” distributed to Ukrainians purportedly without any control and background checks was a mistake.
“It was practically a license for murder,” he said, referring to numerous reports and videos alleging that many civilians in Kiev have already suffered from what has been described as banditry and that the shootout heard in the Ukrainian capital was reportedly caused by clashes between locals.
“Today many talk about our president Zelensky’s heroism, who pushes people to die,” he claimed, adding that heroism is about “rescuing, protecting and being ready to negotiate.” Ukrainian authorities are determined to “draw blood as much as possible” to incite more hatred, and Zelensky “has to be held responsible for that,” the lawmaker said.
On 27 February, Zelensky’s office signaled readiness to hold talks to discuss “Ukraine’s neutral status.” President Putin, in response, offered to meet in Belarus, but the location was unacceptable to the Ukrainian side.
Later, the proposal was accepted and, according to Ukrainian president’s press secretary Sergei Nikiforov, “consultations on the time and place of the talks are going on at these hours.” On the same day, Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian delegation arrived in Gomel, Belarus, awaiting the talks.
Meanwhile, Zelensky said in his latest address that he “does not really believe” in the success of the negotiations in Gomel, saying he agreed to hold talks so that “not a single citizen of his country had any doubts that he, as president, tried to prevent war when there was a chance, albeit small.”
On 25 February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted while speaking to officials from Donbas, LPR Foreign Minister Vladislav Deinego and DPR First Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Peresada, that he doubts Ukraine really wants to discuss its “neutrality,” as Zelensky did not agree to negotiate earlier with Russia when the latter put forward proposals for ensuring security in the region and refused to comply with the Minsk Accords.
“We offered any security options,” he said. “President Putin spoke about this at a press conference following talks with President [of France Emmanuel] Macron. He said bluntly: NATO expansion is unacceptable, but we want to seek through joint negotiations, through joint efforts, such options for ensuring security, guaranteed by appropriate conditions.”
On 24 February, President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine, responding to an appeal from leaders of the Donbas republics for help against Kiev’s aggression. He stressed that the Russian military does not seek to occupy Ukrainian territory, but demilitarization and denazification. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, only military infrastructure will be targeted by the Russian military and not cities and the civilian population.