MOSCOW (Dispatches) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call on Friday that the German and Western line on Ukraine was “destructive” and urged Berlin to rethink its approach, the Kremlin said.
Its readout of the call served to highlight the gulf between Russia and Western governments over Ukraine, even though Moscow and Washington have both said in the past 24 hours that they are open in principle to talks.
“Attention was drawn to the destructive line of Western states, including Germany, which are pumping the Kyiv regime with weapons and training the Ukrainian military,” the Kremlin said.
“All this, as well as comprehensive political and financial support for Ukraine, leads to the fact that Kyiv completely rejects the idea of any negotiations.”
Kyiv says peace talks are possible only if Russia stops attacking Ukrainian territory and withdraws its troops from Ukrainian soil.
Putin “called on the German side to reconsider its approaches in the context of the Ukrainian events”, the Kremlin added.
It said Putin defended Russia’s missile strikes on targets in Ukraine as a forced response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian infrastructure, including a key bridge between Russia and Crimea.
He also said Russia should be allowed to participate in investigations into what it called the “terrorist” attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea.
The conversation took place a day after U.S. President Joe Biden met France’s Emmanuel Macron in the White House, and Biden said he was willing to talk to Putin if the Kremlin chief demonstrated he was interested in ending the war.
China’s Xi Urges Ukraine Talks
Chinese leader Xi Jinping in talks with visiting European Council President Charles Michel in Beijing, urged negotiations on a political solution to the Ukraine conflict, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Xi was quoted as saying that “solving the Ukrainian crisis through political means is in the best interest of Europe and the common interest of all countries in Eurasia.”
“Under current conditions, we must avoid escalation and expansion of the crisis and work for peace,” Xi said.
‘Up to 13,000 Ukraine
Up to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed the war, according to Kyiv’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, far below estimates of Ukrainian casualties from western leaders.
At certain points in the war, Ukraine said that between 100 and 200 of its forces were dying each day on the battlefield, making Podolyak’s estimate seem conservative.
Speaking to Ukraine’s 24 Kanal, Podolyak quoted official figures from Ukraine’s general staff. He said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, would make the total public “when the right moment comes”.
Ukraine has been tight-lipped about the number of its military dead and wounded, citing its worry that revealing the total would give Russia a military advantage. The first official total was announced in August when Ukraine’s army chief, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said 9,000 had died. The total number of injured has not been stated.