Putin asks EU to use its influence on Ukraine
Brussels could encourage Kiev to refrain from “massive shelling” of Donbass and from committing “other gross violations” of international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday.
During a lengthy phone call, held amid the ongoing Russian offensive in Ukraine, the two leaders discussed the latest developments on the ground, including Putin’s decision to call off the assault on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and Moscow’s efforts to protect civilians, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Among other things, Putin brought Michel’s attention to the “irresponsible statements of the EU representatives about the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine by military means,” apparently referring to a recent controversial statement by the top EU diplomat Josep Borrel.
“It was noted that Brussels could influence the Kiev authorities in order to force them to stop the massive shelling of Donbass settlements and other gross violations of international humanitarian law,” the statement reads.
The Russian president also criticized EU officials for allegedly “ignoring” the purported “numerous war crimes of the Ukrainian security forces,” as well as for “openly supporting” Russophobia.
In his own readout of the call Michel said that he “strongly urged for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities,” especially ahead of the Orthodox Easter, which will be celebrated on April 24.
“Firmly reiterated the EU’s position: support for Ukraine and her sovereignty, condemnation and sanctions for Russia’s aggression. Our unity, principles and values are inviolable,” the head of the EU Commission wrote.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow has not received any response from Kiev to its latest peace proposals. In the minister’s opinion, this suggests that Ukraine isn't interested in negotiations.
Since the launch of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine on February 24, Russia and Ukraine have consistently accused each other of hampering civilian evacuations, of committing war crimes and violating international law. Several rounds of peace negotiations have apparently not been fruitful.
Russia attacked its neighbor following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin 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.Western countries have condemned Russia’s offensive and imposed hard-hitting sanctions on Moscow.