Putin open to talks with the West over Ukraine

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is open to talks with the West on a possible settlement in Ukraine, but the West must accept Moscow’s demands, the Kremlin said on Friday.

The news comes one day after US President Joe Biden disclosed that he would be willing to speak with Mr Putin about putting an end to the conflict in Ukraine.

Mr Biden and French President Emmanual Macron said on Thursday that they would hold Russia to account for its actions in Ukraine.

Speaking during talks at the White House, Mr Biden appeared to extend an olive branch to Mr Putin, although he stressed that he had seen no signs of any changes in Mr Putin’s stance on Ukraine.

Mr Putin and Mr Biden have not spoken to each other directly since Russia invaded Ukraine at the start of February.

Moscow responded publicly to Mr Biden’s comments with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.”
Mr Peskov said the US’s refusal to recognise annexed territory in Ukraine as Russian was a hindrance in a search for ways to end the war.

Previously, Moscow has sought security guarantees including a reversal of Nato’s eastern enlargement.

After their talks on Thursday, Mr Biden and Mr Macron said in a joint statement that they were committed to holding Russia to account “for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies” in Ukraine.

Mr Biden also disclosed to reporters he was prepared to speak with Mr Putin “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war”, adding that the Russian leader “hasn’t done that yet”.

Mr Macron meanwhile said that he would continue to talk to Mr Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results.” This included the safety of nuclear plants.
As the snow falls in Ukraine and temperatures plummet, Western countries are attempting to boost aid for Ukraine.

Recent Russian missile and drone attacks on key infrastructure have left many millions in Ukraine without any heating, water or electricity.

Fighting continued to rage on in eastern Ukraine. The town of Bakhmut is currently the main target of Moscow’s artillery attacks.

Russian forces in the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions remain on the defensive, Ukraine’s general staff said in its latest battlefield update.

Elsewhere, in an attempt to reduce the money available for Moscow’s war effort, the EU made a tentative agreement on Thursday that there should be a $60-a-barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, according to diplomats.

The measure still needs to be approved by all EU governments in writing.