Drop the ‘theatrics’ if you want to talk, Putin tells Kiev
Western rhetoric on the Ukraine conflict appears to be shifting in the right direction, although Kiev must end its “theatrics” and remove legal obstacles before peace talks can resume, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
“If the Ukrainian side really wants negotiations to happen, it should be done without any theatrics,” the Russian leader told journalists on Wednesday at a press conference in China.
Putin stated that Ukraine must abolish a law which has declared peace talks impossible as long as he remains in power. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed the ban more than a year ago, as his government pursued a military victory over Russia with Western military assistance.
The Russian leader claimed that Kiev has little to show its foreign backers despite months of fighting, and that some Western officials are apparently deviating from their declared goal of defeating Russia on the battlefield.
“This transformation leads in the right direction,” Putin said. “I commend that. But it is not enough.”
The Russian president named EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell as an example of a Western figure shifting his stance.
On a visit to China last week, Borrell stated during a press conference with Foreign Minister Wang Yi that “we count on China to support Ukraine peace negotiations.”
China has long advocated a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis.
Putin made the comments on Ukraine when asked by journalists to provide details of his discussions with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whom he met in Beijing on Tuesday.
The Russian leader said he had not told Orban anything that contradicted Moscow’s public stance on the Ukraine conflict.
Commenting on claims that Orban was “pro-Russian,” Putin said the prime minister was actually “pro-Hungarian,” and suggested that detractors are jealous of his “courage to defend the interests of his people,” unlike many European politicians today.
Putin and Orban both traveled to China to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and met on the sidelines of the event.