Russia rejects pullout from Ukraine as condition for talks

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia said Friday that demanding the West completely withdraw from Ukraine as part of any future talks to end the war effectively rules out such negotiations as Russian attacks continue and a Ukrainian official reports the battle losses of his country stipulates up to 13,000 troops.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains open to talks, but that the Western demand that Moscow first withdraw its troops from Ukraine is unacceptable.

Peskov’s comments came as Putin spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday morning. Scholz’s office said he had made it clear to Putin “that a diplomatic solution, including a withdrawal of Russian troops, must be reached as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden also indicated that he was willing to talk with Putin if he showed he was serious about ending the invasion and withdrawing from Ukraine.

A Kremlin statement after the phone call with Scholz said Putin again blamed the West for encouraging Ukraine to prolong the war by supplying it with weapons.

Putin also said recent crippling Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure were “forced and inevitable” after Ukraine reportedly bombed a key bridge to the Crimean peninsula – which Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014 – and energy facilities.

Russian forces have been bombing Ukraine’s critical infrastructure since October, leaving millions without electricity amid cold winter weather. Scholz’s office said that in the phone call with Putin, he “particularly condemned Russian airstrikes against civilian infrastructure” in Ukraine and said Germany was determined to continue helping Ukraine defend itself.

Russian forces continued rocket attacks against infrastructure and airstrikes against Ukrainian troop positions along the line of contact, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday, adding that Moscow’s military advance has targeted a dozen cities, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka — key Russian targets in the region. disputed east.

A top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, citing military leaders, said 10,000 to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had died since the Russian invasion on February 24. It was a rare comment on Ukraine’s military casualties and well below Western leaders’ estimates.

“We have official figures from the General Staff, we have official figures from the top command, and it is between 10,000 and 12,500-13,000 dead,” the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Channel 24 TV late on Thursday. He also said civilian casualties were “significant”.

The Ukrainian military has not confirmed such figures and it was a rare instance of a Ukrainian official providing such a count. The latest dates back to late August, when the chief of the armed forces said nearly 9,000 soldiers had been killed. In June, Podolyak said up to 200 soldiers died every day in some of the most intense fighting and bloodshed in the war to date.

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the chair of the European Union’s executive committee, said 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed before her office corrected her comments — calling them inaccurate and saying the figure included both dead and wounded.

Zelenskyy’s office reported on Friday that at least three civilians were killed and 16 injured in Ukraine in the past 24 hours. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the agency’s deputy chief, said on Telegram that Russian forces had attacked nine southeastern regions with heavy artillery, missiles and aircraft.

Ukrainians have braced for freezing winter temperatures as Russia’s campaign recently hit infrastructure, including power plants and electrical transformers, leaving many without heating, water and electricity.

Ukraine has been facing a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone strikes since early October. The shelling in Kherson has been particularly fierce since Russian troops withdrew and the Ukrainian army retook the southern city nearly three weeks ago.

Kherson regional governor said three people were killed and seven injured in shelling on Thursday. Russians hit residential areas of the city, part of which was without electricity after Russian strikes Thursday.

In the eastern Donetsk region, Ukrainian governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian shelling has intensified significantly. The Russian army is trying to encircle the main city of Bakhmut by taking several surrounding villages and cutting off a major road.

Russian attacks were also reported on towns across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. And in the northeastern province of Kharkov, officials said Russian shelling injured two women.

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The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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