- Putin says the West is trying to break Russia
- Kyiv accused the West of refusing to negotiate
- Ukraine: Putin needs to come back to reality
- 99.9% of Russians are ready to defend the motherland
MOSCOW, Dec 25 (Reuters) – Russia is ready to hold talks with all parties to the war in Ukraine, but Kiev and its Western backers have refused to engage in talks, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has sparked the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
So far, there has been little conclusion to the war.
The Kremlin says it will fight until it achieves all its objectives, while Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is expelled from all of its territory, including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
“We are ready to negotiate with all those involved about acceptable solutions, but it depends on them – we are not negotiators, they are,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television.
CIA Director William Burns In an interview published this month, while most conflicts end in negotiations, the CIA estimates that Russia is not yet serious about actual negotiations to end the war.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin needs to return to reality and admit that it is Russia that does not want negotiations.
“Russia is attacking Ukraine alone, killing civilians,” Mykhailo Podoliak tweeted. “Russia does not want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
‘No other choice’
Putin said Russia was acting in the “right direction” in Ukraine as the West, led by the United States, tried to divide Russia. Washington denies plotting Russia’s downfall.
“I believe we are acting in the right direction, we are protecting our national interests, our citizens, our people’s interests. And we have no choice but to protect our citizens,” Putin said.
Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching a dangerous level, Putin said: “I don’t think it’s very dangerous.”
Putin said the West started the conflict by toppling the pro-Russian president during the 2014 Maidan revolution protests in Ukraine.
After that revolution, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist forces began fighting Ukraine’s armed forces in eastern Ukraine.
“In fact, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical enemies, which aims to divide Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.
Putin calls it a “special military operation” in Ukraine as Moscow finally stands up to a Western bloc he says has been trying to destroy Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for an imperialist-style war of aggression that has sown suffering and death across Ukraine.
Putin described Russia as a “unique country” and said the majority of its people were united in wanting to protect it.
“As for the main part – 99.9% of our citizens, our people who are ready to give everything for the interests of the motherland – I see nothing unusual here,” Putin said.
“It makes me realize once again that Russia is a unique country and we have an exceptional people. This has been confirmed throughout the history of Russia’s existence.”
Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev Editing by Gareth Jones
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