Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will not give his scheduled Monday address to the Council of Europe, citing “urgent, unforeseen circumstances.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is expected to speak in Zelensky’s place, according to a Monday tweet from The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
News that Zelensky will not address the council comes on the nineteenth day of Russia’s invasion of his country. Ukraine experienced serious blows over the weekend in the conflict — at least 35 people were killed when a Russian missile strike hit a base less than 15 miles from Ukraine’s border with Poland, and amid Ukrainian claims that a second mayor had been abducted by Russian forces.
The two sides in the conflict, however, are meeting for a fourth round of peace talks on Monday via video conference. A top Ukrainian official said Kyiv will ask for peace, a cease-fire, the immediate withdrawal of troops and security guarantees.
Previous peace discussions, which have taken place in person, did not reach any major breakthroughs.
The Council of Europe has taken retaliatory actions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, suspending the country from the human rights organization. The group last month said its suspension of Russia would have an “immediate effect” in the Committee of Ministers and parliamentary assembly.
Russia, however, was not fully ousted from the organization and is still obligated to follow its human rights conventions.
Zelensky has emerged as a global hero during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, refusing to flee his country amid the conflict.