MOSCOW, 22 April (BelTA) – We are ready to welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists during the meeting with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko in Moscow on 22 April, BelTA has learned.
Earlier, Volodymyr Zelensky suggested his Russian counterpart that they hold talks in Donbass to discuss settling the conflict in that region.
“As for the suggestion of the Ukrainian authorities and Volodymyr Zelensky, I would like to point out that the Ukrainian authorities have recently taken many steps that are detrimental to the Ukrainian-Russian relations,” Vladimir Putin said. According to him, this directly concerns several problems in the bilateral relations, the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities to the Russian Orthodox Church and actual attempts to destroy it as well as their treatment of the Russian language, Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens, and Russian citizens who live in Ukraine. “We have seen a lot of steps meant to damage these relations, regrettably,” the Russian president noted. “However, if Volodymyr Zelensky wants to start mending these relations, we will only welcome it,” he added.
“There is a logical question: what do we want to discuss at this meeting? If it is going to be about the problems in Donbass, the Ukrainian authorities should meet with the leadership of the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic first and only then discuss these problems with third countries, such as Russia,” Vladimir Putin pointed out.
If Ukraine feels the need to discuss the development of the bilateral relations, we are ready to welcome the Ukrainian president in Moscow at any convenient time, he stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko agreed with the Russian president. “If they want to negotiate with Donbass, they could meet in Donbass, right? It is their business, after all,” the Belarusian head of state remarked.
“I believe that it is high time for Volodymyr Zelensky to adopt a pragmatic diplomatic approach, among other things. In relation to Donbass as well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.