Putin vows to continue war in Ukraine as peace talks are ‘at a dead end’
President Vladimir Putin said peace talks with Ukraine are “at a dead end” and vowed to continue Russia’s invasion as Kyiv accused Moscow of sabotaging the negotiations.
There’s been no word of progress for days in video-link peace talks after Ukraine accused Russian troops of carrying out war crimes including killing unarmed civilians in Bucha and other towns in the north. Western leaders have called for international investigations of the deaths.
In his first public comments on the alleged atrocities, Putin first compared them to U.S. attacks on cities like Raqqa in Syria and then called the Bucha claims “fake.”
Russia’s almost seven-week offensive is going “according to plan,” Putin said Tuesday at a joint press conference at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Dialog continued between the two sides by video link after the last in-person meeting in Istanbul on Mar. 29. There’s been no public confirmation of talks this week. Putin accused Ukraine of backing off earlier concessions, but Kyiv’s public position has not changed and it blames Russia for the lack of progress.
“The talks are extremely difficult,” said the chief Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak, adding that Russia is “sticking to its traditional practice of publicly pressing on the negotiating process.”
Putin said that without a peace deal, “the military operation will continue until its final completion and the tasks that were set at the start of the operation are achieved.”
He told workers at the cosmodrome conflict with Ukraine was “inevitable” because of its close ties with the West. But while the Kremlin originally justified the offensive as needed to “de-militarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine by ousting its pro-Western democratically elected government, Putin said Tuesday the main goal is to “help” the people of Donbas.
After facing major losses and the failure to capture the capital Kyiv, Russia has scaled back its war aims in Ukraine. It’s now preparing a new offensive aimed at solidifying control of the eastern Donbas region that is partly controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists and securing a land bridge to the Crimea peninsula Putin annexed in 2014.
Russia’s economy has withstood the West’s sanctions “blitzkrieg,” Putin said, citing the recovery of the ruble’s exchange rate. But he conceded that logistics and payment systems remain a weakness and the long-term impact of western limits could be more painful. The government is expecting an economic contraction of as much as 10% this year, the worst in more than two decades.
The Russian president said he hoped that “good sense” will ultimately prevail in the West, leading to the easing of sanctions. He also said that while rising inflation related to the crisis “inevitably” will cause political problems for Western leaders, Russian public support for his policy remains strong.
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