WATCH : Ukraine ready for ‘peace talks but we are not ready to capitulate’, says ambassador

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is open to diplomacy, including peace talks, with Russia but is not ready to surrender, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said during a news briefing on Friday.

“Our president said we will defend our country, this is priority number one right now, but of course we are ready for the peace talks,” Markarova told reporters in response to a question about whether Zelensky was open to peace talks that would end Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“Now he also made very clear: We are ready for peace talks but we are not ready to capitulate or surrender.”

Watch the ambassador’s remarks in the player above.

Markarova’s statement comes as hopes for a negotiated end to the war dimmed on Friday after a tentative deal to discuss Zelenskyy’s offer to designate Ukraine a non-aligned country appeared to break down over the proposed venue for the talks.

READ MORE: Biden administration joins E.U. and U.K. sanctions against Putin for Ukraine invasion

The Kremlin had said President Vladimir Putin was ready to send a delegation to Belarus for talks to discuss the proposal that suggests Zelenskyy would be willing to negotiate dropping his country’s bid to join NATO.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Ukrainian officials reversed course and said they were unwilling to travel to Minsk for talks, proposing Warsaw as a venue instead. He said they then cut off communication.

Before the invasion, the West had rejected Russia’s demand to keep Ukraine out of NATO. Putin used the refusal to justify the invasion, claiming that the West left him no other choice.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Zelenskyy of “simply lying” about the non-alignment offer, saying the president “missed the opportunity” to discuss Ukraine’s neutral status when Putin initially proposed it.

As diplomats fought a war of words, invading Russian forces closed in on Ukraine’s capital Friday, in an apparent encircling movement after a barrage of airstrikes on cities and military bases around the country.

Amid growing signs that Russia aims to overthrow him, Zelenskyy told European Union leaders in a video link-up from his bunker late Thursday that it might be the last time they saw him alive.

But on Friday Zelenskyy released a video of himself and his senior aides outside the presidential office in Kyiv to reassure Ukrainians that he and other top officials would stay in the capital.

The assault, anticipated for weeks by the West, amounts to Europe’s largest ground conflict since World War II. It could also portend the emergence of a new “Iron Curtain” between the West and Russia, with global repercussions.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO partners agreed Friday to send thousands of troops to help protect allies along Europe’s eastern edge.

The Russian military said Friday it had encircled the cities of Sumy and Konotop in northeastern Ukraine, but was “taking steps to ensure civilians’ safety.”

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian forces have so far knocked out 211 Ukrainian military installations including 17 command centers, 19 air defense missile systems, 39 radar units, 67 tanks and six warplanes.

Meanwhile a senior U.S. defense official said it’s estimated that Russia has now launched more than 200 missiles into Ukraine and some have hit residential areas, although it was unclear if they were deliberately targeted.

According to the official, separate Russian forces continue to move northwest from Crimea toward Kherson and northeast toward the Donbas region.