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Ukraine ready for talks with Russia on neutral status – official

a view shows destroyed buildings after shelling in the town of starobilsk in the luhansk region
Luhansk region, Ukraine: Destroyed buildings after heavy Russian shelling

Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding NATO, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Friday.

“If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this,” he said via a text message. “We can talk about that as well.”

“Our readiness for dialogue is part of our persistent pursuit of peace.”

Ukraine currently is not part of NATO or the European Union, though it wants to join both, anathema to its former overlord Moscow.

Ukraine gave up its nuclear arms, after gaining independence on the breakup of the Soviet Union, in exchange for security guarantees from European countries.

After pro-democracy protests toppled a Russia-allied Ukrainian president in 2014, Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Kyiv and went on to back rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country.

Seven years later, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine from the air, sea and land on Thursday and his troops were advancing on the capital Kyiv on Friday.

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