Russian President Vladimir Putin called French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, in what appeared to have been a markedly more tense exchange than previous conversations between the two leaders.
The 90-minute call failed to deliver a diplomatic breakthrough, and a senior French official said it left Macron convinced that “the worst is yet to come” and that Putin aims to take control of all of Ukraine.
“Your country will pay dearly because it will end up as an isolated country, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time,” Macron told Putin, according to a French official, who added that Macron “called on Vladimir Putin to not lie to himself.”
The conversation, which the French presidency said was initiated by Putin, came as Ukrainian officials were set to hold talks with a Russian delegation, according to Russian and Ukrainian officials. But based on the two leaders’ exchange, there was no indication Thursday that a diplomatic solution could be in sight, according to French officials.
The Kremlin’s news service cited Putin as having told Macron that the objectives “of the special military operation” — the term the Kremlin has used to refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — “will be fulfilled in any case.”
“Attempts to gain time by dragging negotiations will only lead to additional requirements for Kyiv in our negotiating position,” Putin told Macron, according to the readout.
Meanwhile, Putin, also yesterday, said that Moscow’s advance in Ukraine is going “according to plan” as he ordered large compensations for Russian soldiers killed in the invasion.
“I want to say that the special military operation is going strictly according to schedule, according to plan,” he said, opening a meeting with his security council. “We are at war with neo-Nazis,” the Russian leader said, adding: “I will never give up on my conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.”
But Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to increase military aid to Ukraine, saying Russia would advance on the rest of Europe otherwise.
“If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!” Zelensky told a press conference. “If we are no more then, God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next,” he said, adding: “Believe me.”
He called for direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying it was “the only way to stop this war.”
“We are not attacking Russia and we do not plan to attack it. What do you want from us? Leave our land,” he said, addressing Putin.
“Sit down with me. Just not 30 meters away like with (French President Emmanuel Macron),” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to Putin receiving world leaders at a now-famous enormously long table.
A senior French official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because it is French government practice, said Putin’s remarks reflected a “determination to continue the military operation and to continue it to the end.”
According to the Kremlin’s news service, Putin also took issue with an address to the nation Macron had given Wednesday, in which he had condemned Putin’s “brutal attack” on Ukraine and said, “Putin chose the war.”
Russian forces have taken control of Kherson in the south, the first major city to fall, If they capture more southern cities, Ukrainian forces could be cut off from the sea.
In Mariupol, a strategic port near the Russian border, residents are trapped by intense shelling, as electricity, food, water, heating have been cut out.
While Kyiv remains in government control although there have been several large explosions and a large Russian armored convoy remains some distance away.
Dozens of anti-war demonstrators have been detained in Saint Petersburg after jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called on Russians to protest President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Every day since Russia invaded Ukraine, people have protested in the street, disgusted by the aggression perpetrated in the name of their country.
More than one million people have already fled Ukraine and hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed.
Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister warns a third world war would be nuclear but says Russians are not thinking about it yet
Ukraine’s police have published a video, which they say shows the aftermath of the bombing in the northern city of Chernihiv. It shows the destruction of several buildings and vehicles.
The city has seen heavy Russian shelling, but remains in Ukrainian hands, according to the latest UK military intelligence update.
Russia faces a war crimes investigation after a recorded referral from 39 countries and the investigation can begin immediately.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Karim Khan, told the BBC he has already dispatched a team to the region, to start gathering and preserving any evidence of atrocities that fall within the court’s jurisdiction, which covers war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, anything that violates the Geneva Conventions.
For example, the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, deliberately targeting civilians or buildings that have no military link; like the concert venue in Kharkiv, and the TV tower in Kyiv.
Also, the use of weapons that are imprecise and could result in civilian casualties, like cluster munitions or vacuum bombs, which Ukraine’s ambassador to the US accused Moscow of deploying, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.
The ICC investigators will be collecting clues to build a picture on the ground, establish a chain of command and eventually bring charges against the people at the top giving the orders and orchestrating this invasion.
Russia isn’t a member of the ICC so any Russian nationals would have to be extradited to face justice in The Hague. But as history tells us, leaders who seem all-powerful, untouchable today, may not be so tomorrow.
Putin has told French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia will successfully demilitarise Ukraine and warned any attempts by Kyiv to delay negotiations would result in Moscow adding to its list of demands.
A recent development, however, showed that the second round of talks has started in Belarus between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators, with Ukraine hoping to secure safe passage for civilians fleeing the war.
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