May 18, 2022

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Putin says peace talks with Ukraine deadlocked, stirs up West

Putin says peace talks with Ukraine deadlocked, stirs up West

  • Peace talks deadlocked – Putin
  • Western economic blitzkrieg failed – Putin
  • Putin: Putin is as fake as a Syrian chemical attack
  • Russia to achieve “noble” war goals – Putin

LONDON (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that peace talks with Ukraine had reached a dead end, using his first public comments on the conflict in more than a week to pledge that his forces would win and urge the West. He failed to thwart Moscow.

Speaking publicly about the war for the first time since Russian forces withdrew from northern Ukraine after stopping at the gates of Kyiv, Putin vowed that Russia would achieve all of its “noble” goals in Ukraine.

In the strongest sign yet that the war would last longer, Putin said Kyiv had derailed peace talks by making what he said were false allegations of Russian war crimes and by demanding security guarantees to cover all of Ukraine.

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“We are once again at a standstill for us,” Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since 1999, told a news briefing during a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, 3,450 miles (5,550 km) east of Moscow.

Asked by RSA workers whether the operation in Ukraine would achieve its goals, Putin said: “Certainly. I have absolutely no doubts.”

He said Russia would continue its operation “with rhythm and calm”.

Putin said Russia had no choice but to fight because it had to defend Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and prevent its ex-Soviet neighbor from becoming an anti-Russian staging ground for Moscow’s enemies.

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The war has been condemned by the West as a brutal empire-style land grab targeting a sovereign nation. Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival after Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 and on February 21 recognized two of its rebel regions as sovereign.

Putin dismissed Western sanctions, which directed Russia toward the worst economic downturn since the years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, as a failure.

“The blitzkrieg on which our enemies were counting did not succeed,” Putin said.

Putin was a ubiquitous presence on Russian television in the early days of the war, and he has largely retreated from public view since Russia withdrew from northern Ukraine two weeks ago.

His only public appearance last week was at the funeral of a nationalist, where he did not address the war directly. On Monday, he met the visiting Austrian chancellor at a country house outside Moscow, but no photos of that meeting have been released.

“Fake Bosha”

Putin denied Ukrainian and Western allegations that Russia committed war crimes, calling them fake.

Since Russian forces withdrew from towns and villages around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Ukrainian forces have shown journalists the corpses of what they described as civilians killed by Russian forces, and destroyed homes and burned cars.

Reuters saw bodies in the town of Bucha but could not independently verify who was responsible for the killings. Ukraine says Russia is guilty of genocide and US President Joe Biden has accused Putin of war crimes and has called for a trial.

Putin said he has asked Western leaders to think a bit about the US destruction of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto former capital of the Islamic State caliphate, and in Afghanistan.

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“Have you seen how American planes have reduced this Syrian city to rubble? Bodies have been lying under the rubble for months, decomposing,” Putin said. “No one cares. No one notices.”

“There was no such silence when the provocations were orchestrated in Syria, when they filmed the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons. Then it turned out to be fake. It’s the same kind of fake as Bucha.” Read more

Putin, who says Ukraine and Russia are essentially one people, describes the war as an inevitable confrontation with the United States, which he accuses of threatening Russia with interference in its own backyard.

Sixty years after Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union appeared in the history books as the first man in space, Putin drew an analogy between Soviet successes in space and the challenge of Russia today.

“The sanctions were complete and the isolation was complete, but the Soviet Union was still first in space,” Putin, 69, said, recalling his surprise when he was a student learning achievement.

“We do not intend to isolate,” Putin added. “It is impossible to isolate anyone so severely in the modern world – especially a country as vast as Russia.”

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Writing by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Peter Graf, Thomas Janowski and Gareth Jones

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.