Ukraine: Ready for special negotiations with Russia in Mariupol without conditions

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Ukraine is ready to hold a “special round of negotiations” with Russia in the besieged port city of Mariupol without any conditions, negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Wednesday.

“Yes. Without any conditions. We’re ready to hold a ‘special round of negotiations’ right in Mariupol. One on one. Two on two. To save our guys, Azov [far-right militia now part of Ukraine's National Guard], military, civilians, children, the living and the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever,” Podolyak said on Twitter.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was ready to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“It doesn't matter whether I want it or not. During the last three years which I had, which people gave to me, I was ready to discuss with the Russian president the end of the war. Now it is the same signals (Russia's statements about talks with Ukraine) that they were sending before they had launched a large-scale invasion. I underline once again that they are not ready for peace settlement,” Zelenskyy said.

Mariupol has been under relentless bombardment for weeks and would allow Moscow to establish control over territory linking the Donbas in south-eastern Ukraine to annexed Crimea.

Currently, Russian forces are focusing their offensive in the port city on the Azovstal steel plant, the main remaining Ukrainian stronghold there.

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