- Putin said that the West is trying to destroy Russia
- Kyiv accuses the West of refusing to negotiate
- Ukraine: Putin needs to come back to reality
- 99.9% of Russians say they are ready to defend their homeland
MOSCOW, Dec 25 (Reuters): Russia is ready for talks with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine, but Kyiv 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 sparked Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
So far, the war has little end in sight.
Kyiv says it will not rest until it expels all Russian troops from all its territories, including Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014, and the Kremlin says it will fight until all goals are achieved.
“We are ready to negotiate with all those involved about acceptable solutions, but it depends on them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview.
CIA Director William Burns said in an interview published this month that while most conflicts end in negotiation, the CIA’s assessment is that Russia is not yet serious about real negotiations to end the war.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin needs to return to reality and accept that it is Russia that does not need any negotiations.
“Russia is attacking Ukraine alone and killing citizens,” Mykhailo Podoliak said on Twitter. “Russia does not want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
‘There is no other choice’
Putin said Russia is moving in the right direction in Ukraine because the West, led by the United States, is trying to isolate Russia. Washington denies plotting Russia’s collapse.
“I believe we are working in the right direction, we are protecting our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. We have no choice but to protect our citizens,” Putin said.
“I don’t think it’s that dangerous,” Putin said when asked if geopolitical tensions with the West were approaching a dangerous level.
Putin said the conflict in western Ukraine began with the overthrow of a pro-Russian president in the 2014 Maidan revolution protests.
Shortly after that revolution, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist forces fought Ukraine’s armed forces in eastern Ukraine.
“Actually, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical rivals, which aims to isolate Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.
Putin has touted what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine as a watershed moment as Moscow finally takes a stand against a Western bloc that has been trying to destroy Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ukraine and the West say there is no justification for what Putin calls an imperialist-style war of occupation that has sown suffering and death across Ukraine.
Putin described Russia as a “unique country” and said the vast majority of people were united in wanting to defend 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 – there is nothing unusual for me here,” Putin said.
“This once again convinces me that Russia is a unique country and we have an extraordinary people. This has been confirmed throughout the history of Russia’s existence.”
Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv Editing by Gareth Jones
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