Zelensky: Not in talks with third parties over peace plan

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, second left, is surrounded with servicemen close to the front line in Donetsk region, Ukraine, June 5, 2022. (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE VIA AP)

KYIV/MOSCOW/ROME – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is not holding talks with third parties over a peace plan to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Ukrinform news agency reported on Monday.

"I do not have any negotiations about any plans. Such negotiations are at zero level today," Zelensky told reporters during a press conference while commenting on media reports that the European Union, the United States and Britain allegedly discussed a peace plan for Ukraine.

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The international community is having growing fatigue with the conflict, he said, adding that some countries are trying to convince Ukraine to make unfavorable concessions.

I have not been invited. The minister of foreign affairs has not been invited, as of today.

Volodymyr Zelensky, President, Ukraine

"Everyone surely wants to push us, step by step, towards some result that is for sure unprofitable for us, but beneficial for certain parties that have their interests.”

Meanwhile, he stressed that Ukraine must continue its partnership "with all European countries and the world powers".

Turkey can become a mediator in the talks on unblocking Ukrainian ports for grain exports, Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine did not participate in the Turkey-Russia negotiations on the issue.

"I have not been invited. The minister of foreign affairs has not been invited, as of today," he said.

Kyiv is not considering any alternative to the EU membership, and that its possible agreement with Britain on a defense union is part of Ukraine's security guarantees, said the Ukraine leader.

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The situation in Ukraine remains unpredictable, and hostilities may erupt anywhere if Ukrainian forces lose ground in Donbass, Zelensky said.

He added that more than 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant were captured by Russia following the end of the battle in Mariupol in May.

Russia bans more Americans from entry

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that an additional 61 US citizens have been barred from entering Russia in response to the sanctions repeatedly imposed by Washington.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm are among the blacklisted.

Russian Black Sea Fleet ships pushed back

The ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet were pushed back 100 km from the Ukrainian shore, the press service of the Navy Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Monday.

The Russian fleet has lost complete control over the northwest part of the Black Sea, which has turned into a "gray zone," the Ukrainian navy said in a statement on Facebook.

Russian forces aim to regain control of the northwestern part of the Black Sea by deploying coastal defense missile systems "Bal" and "Bastion" in the Crimea and Kherson region and by transferring additional forces to Snake Island, the statement said. 

‘Italy called on to play role’

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Monday Italy is "called on" to play a key role in ensuring peace is maintained once the conflict in Ukraine draws to a close.

The head of state spoke during a ceremony to celebrate the 208th anniversary of the founding of the Carabinieri, Italy's special paramilitary police.

The Ukraine crisis "is undermining the foundations of coexistence in the world," Mattarella said, adding that Italy will be "called on to ensure peace, security and progress" when the Russia-Ukraine conflict is over.