“They say tomorrow is the war. This means panic,” Zelensky said.
The exact gravity of the threat posed by Russia remains unclear and has reportedly been a point of contention between Zelensky and Biden.
Their talk Thursday reportedly did not go well, a senior Ukrainian official told DailyExpertNews. During the call, which the Ukrainian official described as “long and candid”, Biden allegedly warned that a Russian invasion was now almost certain and imminent, while Zelensky reiterated his position that the threat from Russia remains “dangerous but ambiguous”.
The White House disputed that account, saying that anonymous sources are “leaking falsehoods.” A spokeswoman said Biden warned Zelensky that a February invasion was a “clear possibility.”
When asked about his conversation with Biden, Zelensky thanked the US president for his support, but said the Russian troop build-up was not much more important than what he had seen in the past.
“I am the president of Ukraine, I live here and I think I know the details better than any other president,” Zelensky said. “We have no misunderstandings with President Biden. I just understand very well what is going on in my country, just as he understands very well what is going on in the United States.”
“I’m not criticizing President Biden,” Zelensky added.
Despite the differences of opinion, all parties seem to be looking for a diplomatic solution. Zelensky said he was willing to meet with Putin for a serious talk and suggested Biden establish a platform for dialogue between Washington, Kiev and Moscow.
“People don’t understand the value of human life and that’s what matters. I support serious dialogue,” Zelensky said.
The ball now seems to be in the Kremlin’s court. The US and NATO filed separate written responses on Wednesday to Russia’s publicly expressed concerns, an overture Moscow had requested.
Although the US has not disclosed what is in the document, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday it “contains our own proposals for areas where we may be able to reach agreement”.
Blinken also said there will be “no change” in NATO’s “open door policy”, putting the US at odds with Russia’s demand that NATO commit never to admit Ukraine to the alliance.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the document did not address Russia’s main concerns, although he said there was hope for a “serious conversation, but on secondary topics”.
“The most important point is our clear position on the inadmissibility of further expansion of NATO to the East and the use of offensive weapons that could threaten the territory of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.
DailyExpertNews’s Jeremy Herb and contributed to this report.