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Putin Ready to Send Delegation for Talks With Kiev – Kremlin

© Sputnik / Aleksey Nikolskyi / Go to the mediabankRussian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin   - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
On Thursday, Russia began a special operation in Ukraine, which President Putin said is aimed at protecting the residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk People's Republics from the "genocide" being waged by Ukrainian authorities. Moscow said the military operation does not pose a threat to civilians and only targets the military infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a delegation of high-ranking officials to Minsk to hold talks with Kiev, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. "In response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's request we're ready to send representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry and presidential administration for negotiations", he said.
Earlier on Friday, in a video message Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Putin to sit down for talks in order to stop people's deaths. Responding to his statement Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow will begin negotiations at any moment as soon as Ukrainian military lay down their arms.
Responding to his statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow will begin negotiations at any moment as soon as the Ukrainian military lays down their arms.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Minsk will provide all the necessary conditions for talks between the two sides.On Thursday, he emphasised that it is important to avoid a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine.
According to Lukashenko, for the talks to proceed successfully Kiev has to refuse to join NATO and cease hostilities in the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, who announced their independence from Ukraine in 2014.
The development comes amid the ongoing special operation in Ukraine conducted by Russian forces. It was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, who said he made this decision after the LPR and DPR requested help from Moscow. Both republics accused the Ukrainian authorities of shelling its territories. Ukraine has denied conducting any strikes.
The breakaway republics ordered the evacuation of the civilian population to Russia amid the standoff with Kiev.
Announcing the military operation, President Putin said it is aimed at protecting the residents of DPR and LPR from the "genocide" being waged by the Ukrainian authorities.

"To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation", President Putin said.

At the same time, the Russian head of state said that Moscow has no intention of occupying Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected the allegation of Nazis being present in Ukraine as well as statements by Russian authorities that Kiev poses a threat to Russia and may invade the country if it joins NATO. Zelensky described Russia's special operation as a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine. In a televised address to the nation, he said 137 servicemen had been killed, while 316 were injured.
Zelensky stressed that Russian forces had conducted strikes on civilian facilities, including in residential areas of the capital Kiev. The Russian Ministry of Defence, for its part, accused Kiev of using civilians as human shields. The Russian Defence Ministry stated that it is only conducting strikes on military infrastructure and that there is no threat to civilians.
Western countries have thrown their support behind Ukraine, condemning Moscow's actions and introducing the harshest sanctions on Russia to date. The punitive measures targeted banks, government officials, businesses, as well as individuals close to President Vladimir Putin's alleged inner circle.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called Russia's actions wrong and called on President Putin to stop the special operation.
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