He said his family is the No. 2 target, but in Ukraine. “My family is not traitors, they are Ukrainian citizens. But I have no right to say where they are now, ”Zhelensky said.
The Ukrainian leader said hours after the Biden administration told U.S. lawmakers that Kiev could soon fall, it was staying with “everyone needed for the work of the central government.”
Russian forces approached the city on Friday and launched a full-scale offensive, with Western officials saying they were trying to overthrow the Ukrainian government. The blasts shocked the city, where airstrikes sounded and people hid for shelter in deep subway stations. The Ministry of Defense said the “saboteurs” were miles away from the center of Kiev.
In a video conference later Friday, Zelensky invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to sit down for talks. “I would like to address the President of the Russian Federation once again,” he said. “There are wars all over Ukraine. We will sit at the negotiating table to stop the casualties.”
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was ready to send its foreign and defense ministers to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, but made it clear that Russia still expects Ukraine to be “militarized and destroyed.”
Prior to the attack by tanks and troops on the border, Putin demanded that Ukraine abandon any desire to join NATO, give up all weapons and recognize Crimea, which annexes Moscow as part of Russia.
Zhelensky said in his speech that NATO and Europe had left their country alone to defend themselves, warning that sanctions by Western allies were not enough. He urged European governments to do everything from withdrawing ambassadors to oil bans and air closures.
“All of you, I’m sure you see this all over Europe. But I do not know what you are going to do about it. How are you going to defend yourself when it’s too late to help us in Ukraine?” He asked.
Zhelensky had previously said that Ukraine was “not afraid to talk about neutrality”. “We are not in NATO now. But what security guarantee do we have? Which countries will give them to us? “
Paul Son and David L. Stern contributed to this report.