- Vladimir Putin is open to talks on Ukraine, but the West must recognize Russia’s “new territories.”
- The Kremlin’s comments came after the US president said he would talk to Putin if he wanted to end the war.
- Meanwhile, the European Union has tentatively agreed to set a $60 (AU$88) per barrel price ceiling for Russian offshore oil.
President Vladimir Putin is open to talks on Ukraine, but the West must recognize Russia’s “new territories,” the Kremlin said on Friday, a day after US President Joe Biden said he was ready to negotiate if Putin is looking for a way to end the war. war.
Speaking Thursday after White House talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden said he was open to talking to Putin “if there’s actually an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war.” The Russian leader “hadn’t done that yet.”
Mr. Biden has not spoken directly to Mr. Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. In March, Biden called Putin a “butcher” who “cannot stay in power.”
French President Emmanuel Macron stands with US President Joe Biden at the White House. Source: AARP / Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA
In Moscow’s first public response to the overture, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The President of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations to secure our interests.”
Russia has previously said it is open to peace talks. Ukraine and its allies fear that any ceasefire without a full withdrawal would allow Russian troops to regroup in preparation for further attacks.
Peskov said that Russia will not leave Ukraine.
He added that the search for ways to end the war was hindered by the US refusal to recognize territories in Ukraine that Russia had annexed.
Mr. Putin has declared southern Kherson region and three other partially occupied regions of Ukraine part of Russia, a move condemned by most countries as illegal.
The war is now in its tenth month, and winter is tightening its grip. Western countries are trying to step up aid to Ukraine, which has been hit by Russian missile and drone attacks on key energy infrastructure that have left millions of people without heat, electricity and water.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has ousted Russian troops from areas of occupied territory, including areas that Russia claims have been annexed.
Fighting is raging in eastern Ukraine, with the town of Bakhmut being the main target of artillery shelling of Moscow, while Russian forces in Kherson and the Zaporozhye region remain on the defensive, the Ukrainian General Staff said in its latest battlefield report.
In an effort to cut Moscow’s military spending, the European Union has tentatively agreed to cap the price of Russian offshore oil at $60 (A$88) a barrel, diplomats said. The measure must be approved by all EU governments in writing by Friday.
Kremlin: West’s line towards Ukraine is “destructive”
Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call on Friday that the Western line on Ukraine is “destructive” and urged Berlin to reconsider its approach, the Kremlin said.
In a Berlin report by telephone, Scholz’s spokeswoman said the chancellor condemned Russian air strikes on civilian infrastructure and called for a diplomatic solution to the war, “including the withdrawal of Russian troops.”
Separately, the German government has confirmed that it is preparing to supply Ukraine with seven Gepard tanks, in addition to the 30 air defense tanks already in use against Russian forces.
Putin said he did not regret launching the so-called “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. He calls the war a turning point when Russia finally stood up to the arrogant West after decades of humiliation after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no excuse for what they call an imperial-style war of occupation in which thousands of civilians have been killed. Kyiv says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is expelled from its territory.