Moscow, 22 April 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is prepared to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but in Moscow, he said on Thursday, rather than Ukraine, as Zelensky had proposed.
“When it comes to the development of bilateral relations, please. We will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him,” Putin said, according to Interfax news agency.
The proposals come amid heightened tensions between Kiev and Moscow and a build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders.
Zelensky had suggested the two leaders meet in the Donbas conflict zone, in eastern Ukraine.
For almost seven years, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions along the Russian border – collectively known as Donbas – have been controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow.
“I am ready to go further and propose a meeting at any point of Ukraine’s Donbas where there is war,” Zelensky had said in Russian, during a speech.
However, Putin said that if Zelensky wanted to discuss problems in Donbas, he should meet the leaders of Luhansk and Donetsk.
According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict since 2014. Since the beginning of this year, 60 fatalities had been reported, including civilians, despite a ceasefire.
A peace plan established in 2015 is on hold.