Putin says Russia ready to negotiate over Ukraine
( NYPost )
Russia is ready to negotiate over the war in Ukraine, but Kyiv and its western allies are dragging their feet on discussing the terms to its end, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired Sunday.
While speaking with Rossiya 1 state television, Putin said: “We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them — we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin claimed.
“I believe that we are acting in the right direction, we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens,” the Russian leader added.
Despite his claims, both US and Ukrainian officials believe Russia is not serious about negotiations and suspect the claim is a ploy to buy time amid Russian fallbacks on the battlefield.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian leader needed to acknowledge that it was Russia that is not open to engaging in talks.
“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
Attacks on Ukraine dragged on Sunday despite Putin’s comments.
A country-wide air alert was issued twice Sunday and three missiles hit the city of Kramatorsk in the partially occupied Donetsk region, according to local officials.
No one was injured when the missiles hit an industrial part of the city, said Ukrainian governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko. He said the city of Avdiivka was also attacked with six rounds of shelling. One woman was reported injured.
Putin said Russia was “defending” its national interests in the war, now in its tenth month, and that the West has been looking to tear apart Russia since 2014, when the conflict began in Ukraine by toppling a pro-Russian president in the Maidan Revolution protests.
Soon after that revolution, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and Russian separatist forces began fighting against Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine.
“Actually, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical opponents which is aimed at pulling apart Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.
Putin equates his “special military operation” in Ukraine to a watershed moment – in that it was when Moscow finally stood up to a Western bloc that has been looking to destroy Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine and its Western allies say Putin has no reason for casting what they deem to be an imperial-style war of occupation, which has spurred countless deaths and tremendous suffering across the war-torn country.
During the operation last week, the frontline Ukrainian city of Kherson was left without power after being attacked 16 times within 24 hours, according to Zelensky. At least one shell struck a Red Cross aid station and killed a paramedic.
That barrage also came after two Ukrainians were killed Wednesday in the city center when a government building was targeted. On Saturday, seven others were killed and at least 58 were injured by Russian missile strikes on Kherson, officials said.
“It’s terror, it’s killing for the sake of intimidation and pleasure,” Zelensky wrote alongside photos of the war-torn city on Saturday. “The world must see what absolute evil we are fighting against.”