He said his family is Target Number 2, but they are still in Ukraine too. My family is not traitors, but a citizen of Ukraine. “I have no right to say where they are now,” said Zelensky.
The Ukrainian leader said he is staying “with everyone who is needed for the work of the central government,” hours after the Biden administration told US lawmakers that Kiev could soon fall.
Russian forces advanced near the city on Friday, launching a large-scale offensive that Western officials said seeks to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Explosions rocked the city as sirens sounded and people gathered for shelter in deep metro stations. The Defense Ministry said the “saboteurs” were only miles from the center of Kiev.
In a video address later on Friday, Zelensky invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to sit down for talks. “I want to address the President of the Russian Federation again,” he said. There are battles all over the Ukrainian territory. Let’s sit down to the negotiating table to stop the loss of life.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was ready to send its foreign and defense ministers to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks, but made clear that Russia still expected “the disarmament and disarmament” of Ukraine.
Before the attack of tanks and troops across the border, Putin demanded that Ukraine abandon any aspirations to join NATO, give up all weapons and recognize Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, as part of Russia.
In his speech, Zelensky said that NATO and Europe had left his country alone to fend for itself, warning that the sanctions of Western allies were not enough. He urged European governments to do more, from withdrawing ambassadors to imposing an oil embargo and closing airspace.
“I’m sure you see that, all of you, all of Europe. But we don’t see what you are going to do about it. How are you going to defend yourselves when you are so slow to help us in Ukraine?” he asked.
Zelensky had previously said that Ukraine was “not afraid to talk about a neutral situation.” “We are not in NATO now. But what security guarantees will we get? And what countries will they give us?”
Paul Sohn and David L. Stern contributed to this report.