Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russian President Vladimir Putin “to sit down at the negotiating table to stop the death of people,” the Ukrainian President said in a video message early on Friday.
Meanwhile, Russian troops are reportedly advancing to Kyiv, and there have been numerous reports of airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital and other cities overnight.
“Today at 10:30 am at the entrances to Chernihiv, Hostomel and Melitopol there were heavy fighting. People died,” Zelensky said on Twitter early on Friday.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, as carried by ABC News:
“We are ready for negotiations, at any moment, as soon as the Armed Forces of Ukraine respond to the call of our president to cease resistance and lay down their arms. No one intends to attack them.”
Lavrov was speaking during a televised meeting in Moscow with pro-Russian separatist leaders from eastern Ukraine.
Russia attacked Ukraine early on Thursday, confirming the worst-case scenarios of the U.S., which had been warning for weeks that an invasion was imminent.
Fears of commodity shortages – from oil and gas to wheat and corn – sent all commodity prices soaring on Thursday, while equity markets globally plunged.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that his phone conversation with Putin on Thursday was on behalf of Zelensky, who could not reach Putin directly.
“It was also to ask him to discuss with President Zelensky, who had requested that, because he could not reach him,” Macron said, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
The French president, who had sought a diplomatic path out of a conflict before the invasion occurred, admitted that Putin had been deceptive discussing potential talks while planning to invade Ukraine.
“Yes, there was duplicity. Yes, there was a deliberate, conscious choice to launch war when we could still negotiate peace,” Macron said on Friday, after an EU summit in Brussels.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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