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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that while Ukraine was not eager to have a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his country has to face the reality that communication will likely be needed to end the war.
“There are things to discuss with the Russian leader. I’m not telling you that to me our people are eager to talk to him, but we have to face the realities of what we are living through,” he said in an address.
“What do we want from this meeting … We want our lives back … We want to reclaim the life of a sovereign country within its own territory,” he said.
Zelenskyy noted that Russia did not seem to be ready for peace talks.
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On Thursday, the Kremlin said that it expects Ukraine to accept Russia’s demands and “the understanding of the real situation that exists de-facto.”
Russia’s assault on Ukraine has not let up and its military on Friday pounded the last Ukrainian strongholds in a separatist-controlled eastern province of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s foreign minister warned that its forces would not be able to stop Russia from gaining control of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk without more foreign weapons.
The cities are the last areas under Ukrainian control in Luhansk.
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In Donetsk, Russian-backed rebels claimed Friday to have taken control of Lyman, however there was no immediate confirmation of the claim from Ukrainian officials.
Zelenskyy has accused Moscow of pursuing “an obvious policy of genocide.”
“Pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives,” he said. “And every day of delay, weakness, various disputes or proposals to ‘appease’ the aggressor at the expense of the victim is new killed Ukrainians. And new threats to everyone on our continent.”
The leader noted that Russia’s offensive in the Donbas could leave communities there uninhabitable.
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According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), there have been 3,998 Ukrainian civilians killed in the conflict and 4,693 injured.
However, the actual figures are believed to be considerably higher.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.