EU leader wanted proof Bucha wasn’t staged – Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed that an EU member state’s leader called into question Kiev’s version of events surrounding the Bucha killings, asking for proof that the atrocities were not staged.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild on Friday, Zelensky described how a leading EU politician asked him for evidence proving that the Bucha massacre had not been staged. The remark came after the Bild journalist asked what the worst thing he had heard in recent days was. When the interviewer probed further, asking whether it was the head of state of an EU nation, Zelensky replied in the affirmative, though he refused to name the official.
Ukraine claims Russian troops committed atrocities against civilians in the town of Bucha northwest of Kiev before retreating last week. Russia has rejected the accusations, and claims Kiev manipulated evidence in what it calls a “provocation.”
Commenting on Berlin’s support for Kiev, the Ukrainian president lamented Germany’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for tougher sanctions against Russia.
“Some countries, and Germany is among them, are against an oil and gas embargo,” Zelensky said, adding, however, that he was content that the EU’s fifth round of sanctions “contains the coal and timber embargo.” He also accused Berlin of being overly cautious in its support for Kiev, refusing to provide the country with weapons for some time, and stressing that Ukraine would not become a NATO member state. But, according to Zelensky, “Germany’s rhetoric has changed” over time, despite the country being “conservative and cold.”
Asked if he was prepared to sit down with Russian President
Vladimir Putin and talk, Zelensky said, “today Ukraine has no way out other than to sit down at the negotiating table.” He added that “no one else in Russia has the power to stop this war,” as Putin is the only one who “decides when this war will end.”
The Russian and Ukrainian negotiating teams have been engaged in talks for weeks now, in both face-to-face and virtual meetings. While the two nations have apparently come close to an agreement on certain topics, such as Ukraine’s future neutral status, they still have not been able to find common ground on others. Last week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin was ready to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, but only after the negotiators had finalized a document.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.