Ukraine’s Zelensky calls for direct talks with Russia ‘to end war’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called for direct negotiations with Russia to end an eight-year war with pro-Russian separatists in his country’s east.

“We must tell the truth that we will not be able to end the war without direct talks with Russia,” Zelensky said during an annual address to lawmakers.

His comments followed the foreign ministry saying Tuesday that Russia has massed 115,000 troops around Ukraine, on the Crimean peninsula—which Moscow annexed in 2014 — and in two eastern regions occupied by pro-Russian separatists fighters.

“Let’s be honest, the war in Donbass has been going on for eight years. Eight years since Russia annexed Crimea,” Zelensky said, adding he was “not afraid” to speak directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We must talk, knowing that we have a strong and powerful army,” he added.

Zelensky during his address also called on Ukrainian politicians to remain united in the face of Russian aggression.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Moscow of sending troops and arms across the border to support separatists who carved out two statelets in the east, but Moscow has denied those claims.

The conflict in the east has claimed more than 13,000 lives.



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