KIEV, February 25. /TASS/. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in a video address to the nation on Friday night he was not afraid to discuss with Russia the issue of Ukraine’s neutral status.
"We heard from Moscow today that they want to talk about the neutral status of Ukraine," Zelensky said in the video, posted on his Telegram channel. "We are not afraid of Russia, we are not afraid of engaging in talks with Russia, we are not afraid of discussing anything, such as security guarantees for our state, we are not afraid of talking about neutral status."
He admitted that NATO was not ready to provide security guarantees to Ukraine and to grant membership.
"I was saying to all partners of our country: ‘The moment is crucial, the fate of our country is now at stake.’ I asked them: ‘Are you with us?’ They replied that yes, they are with us, but are not ready to make us members of the alliance. I asked 27 European leaders today whether Ukraine will become a NATO member. <…> They gave no answer," Zelensky said.
The Russian authorities are ready to talk with the Ukrainian leadership, if it is willing to discuss Russia-formulated issues, including Ukraine’s neutral status, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. When asked to specify whether Russia was now ready to talk with the Ukrainian leadership on this topic, Peskov emphasized: "If the Ukrainian leadership is ready to talk on that."
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on Thursday morning that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.