Red-faced Putin: Russia now ready to ‘negotiate’ over Ukraine war
President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine but that Kyiv and its Western backers had refused to engage in talks.
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most deadly conflict in Europe since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
There is, thus far, little end in sight to the war.
The Kremlin says it will fight until all its aims are achieved while Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from all of its territory, including Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014.
“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 told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview aired on Sunday.
Putin said Russia was acting in the “right direction” in Ukraine because the West, led by the United States, was trying to cleave Russia apart.
“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,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, air raid sirens wailed in Kyiv and across all Ukrainian regions on Sunday morning but no new Russian attacks were reported, officials said. The all-clear was later given.
Unconfirmed Ukrainian social media reports suggested the sirens may have been triggered after Russian jets took to the skies in Belarus and that the all-clear was sounded after the planes returned to their bases.
Reuters was unable to verify those reports.
Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air forces, told national television earlier on Sunday that Russian military jets were flying virtually around the clock.
“But we have increased readiness – everything that takes off must be under our control,” Ihnat said.
Russia has carried out a series of missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure since mid-October, knocking out power and causing emergency blackouts in many areas.
On Saturday a Russian strike on the southern city of Kherson, recently liberated by Ukrainian forces, killed at least 10 people, wounded 58 and left bloodied corpses on the road, authorities said, in what Kyiv condemned as wanton killing for pleasure. Moscow accused Ukraine of launching the attack.