(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow saw no desire from Ukraine to honor the terms of what he described as a preliminary peace deal reached in March.
Putin, speaking to reporters in televised comments after a visit to Iran, said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were offering to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, which Moscow forces invaded in late february.
There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian government to Putin’s remarks in the early hours of Wednesday.
Putin, asked about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Kyiv had not honored the terms of a preliminary peace agreement which he said had been “virtually concluded” in March, without giving further details. details.
“The end result of course…depends on the willingness of the contracting parties to implement the agreements that have been reached. Today we see that the authorities in Kyiv have no such desire.
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Negotiations took place in March, with both sides making proposals but without a breakthrough. At the time, Zelenskiy said only a concrete outcome of the talks could be relied upon.
Putin met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Tuesday, deepening ties between the two countries which are both under Western sanctions.
During the visit to Iran, Putin also met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, now blocked by Russia.
Russia was ready to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, but also wanted the removal of remaining restrictions on Russian grain exports, said Putin, who was shown by state television Rossiya responding to questions from the media at the end of his visit to Iran.
On Tuesday, the Russian leader said that not all issues had yet been resolved over grain shipments, “but the fact that there is movement is already a good thing.”
It was Putin’s first face-to-face meeting with a NATO leader since Russian troops invaded and was a pointed message to the West about Russian plans to forge closer strategic ties with Iran. , China and India to help offset Western sanctions imposed during the invasion.
The trip shows how isolated Russia has become, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby also said the United States was preparing to unveil another weapons package for Ukraine. Citing US intelligence, he accused Russia of preparing the ground to annex Ukrainian territory.
The Kremlin has said there is no time limit on a conflict it calls a “special military operation” to ensure its own security. Ukraine and the West condemn it as an unprovoked war of aggression against its neighbor.
Russia was trying to “drag” Ukraine into a protracted conflict over the winter, Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said in a magazine interview published on Tuesday.
“It’s very important for us not to go into winter. After winter, when the Russians have more time to dig, it will definitely be more difficult” for any Ukrainian counteroffensive, Yermak said.
More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s last major territorial gain – the capture of the eastern Ukrainian town of Lysychansk. But in a now familiar pattern, Russian missiles rammed targets across Ukraine on Tuesday.
At least one person was killed in a Russian missile strike on the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, authorities said.
“I felt a very powerful explosion and realized it was somewhere here,” said Valentina, a 70-year-old resident whose son-in-law, Maksym, was seriously injured in the attack.
“I called my daughter and she says Maksym doesn’t pick up the phone. He must have been knocked down then,” she cried.
Video footage from the scene showed a large pool of blood among the fallen leaves.
Ukraine’s Air Force said in a Facebook post that it shot down a Russian fighter jet with a missile over Nova Kakhovka, east of the Israeli-occupied city of Kherson. Moscow. Reuters could not immediately verify the Ukrainian account.
As the war drags on, fears that Russia could cut off natural gas supplies to Europe have grown.
In response, the European Union is considering a voluntary 15% reduction in natural gas consumption by its member states starting next month, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing European diplomats.
Brussels is expected to release plans on Wednesday for how the 27 EU members can reduce their gas consumption. The exact number of the reduction target was not specified in a draft document of the plan seen by Reuters.
Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom was ready to meet its gas export obligations, Putin said, and was not responsible for reducing gas transit capacity, including the closure of one of the routes via Ukraine to Europe via Kyiv.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Michael Perry)
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