MINSK, March 1. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday he had a difficult telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and finally managed to persuade him to send a delegation to the talks with Russia.
"It was a difficult conversation. He called us an aggressor. But in the long run, we managed to reach an accord. I told him: the Russian delegation is waiting for you in Gomel. Go there. The war is in your country. Stop being against, otherwise, all the blame will be put on you," BelTA agency quoted him as saying during a meeting of the Belarusian Security Council.
He also told how the Ukrainian delegation had travelled to the talks’ venue. "Regrettably, it took [the Ukrainian delegation] more than a day to reach it. We guaranteed all-round security," he said. "I contacted the Russian president. We agreed with the Russian defense minister, our military were involved. We ensured a corridor from Kiev to Gomel, where I was to take them by helicopters from. No way. They opted to go to Belarus "via America, via Germany." To Poland via Lvov. A phone call: Alexander Grigoryevich, they won’t go unless you let a NATO helicopter they are flying in to Brest. Well, I had to allow the Poles to cross the state border and take them to the Brest airport. And from Brest, they were airlifted by our helicopters to the ‘recreation center.’"
The Russian-Ukrainian talks were held on Monday. The talks lasted for five hours. The Russian delegation was led by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, who said earlier that the Russian delegation was ready to speak with the Ukrainian side as long as it may take to reach agreements. He also said that the delegations had preliminarily agreed to hold the next round of talks in Belarus. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei expressed hope that the next round of the talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations will be held in a couple of days at the Belarusian-Polish border.