Scholz phones Putin after diplomatic overture by Biden and Macron

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RIGA, Latvia — Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday that Moscow’s relentless airstrikes against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure were “forced and unavoidable” because of Ukraine’s attacks on the Crimean Bridge and other Russian targets. destructive” policy in support of Ukraine for prolonging the war Russia has started.

The hour-long appeal, initiated by Berlin, was Putin’s first with a leader of the Group of Seven since Russia suffered a series of battlefield defeats, and since Moscow initiated its wave of attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with using missiles and self-exploding drones. Those attacks have cut off electricity, heat and water supplies in many parts of Ukraine, raising the risk of a humanitarian disaster this winter.

The call came the day after President Biden indicated at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Washington that he was willing to talk to Putin provided the Russian leader was genuinely interested in “looking for a way to end the war.” to end,” but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov ruled out on Friday that he would not give up territory that Russia claims to have illegally annexed.

According to the Kremlin, Putin complained about Western countries sending weapons to Ukraine and training the country’s military, as well as complaining about his “extensive political and financial support for Ukraine”.

“The president of Russia called on the German side to reconsider its approach in the context of the events in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said.

Russia and Ukraine are fighting the first large-scale drone war

Amid a European Union proposal to create a tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, Putin also sought to deflect blame for atrocities by accusing Ukraine of “increasingly bloody crimes against the civilian population”, the Kremlin said.

A statement from the German government said that during the call, Scholz condemned Russian airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and “emphasized Germany’s determination to support Ukraine in ensuring its defense capability against Russian aggression.”

Putin complained that the West’s “destructive line” of supplying arms and financial support to Ukraine “causes Kiev to completely reject the idea of ​​negotiations.”

Biden, appearing alongside Macron, said: “I am willing to talk to Mr. Putin if he has an interest in deciding that he is looking for a way to end the war. If so, in consultation with my French and NATO friends, I would be happy to sit down with Mr. Putin and see what he is up to. He didn’t.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has set parameters for a peace deal, including full respect for the United Nations Charter, which would oblige Russia to withdraw from all illegally occupied Ukrainian sovereign territory, including Crimea. G-7 leaders, including Scholz, Biden and Macron, formally endorsed Zelensky’s proposal in a statement in October.

Biden says he might meet Putin — but not now

Peskov, noting that Biden had conditioned all talks about Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine, added that Moscow was “obviously” unwilling to do so. “What did President Biden actually say? He said negotiations are only possible if Putin leaves Ukraine,” Peskov told reporters on Friday.

“The special military operation continues,” he said. adding that Putin was always open to negotiations, as Russia preferred to achieve its goals in Ukraine “by peaceful diplomatic means”.

Putin last spoke with Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron in mid-September, before his illegal attempt to annex the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zarporizhzhia and Kherson, and also before an explosion at the Crimean bridge that Russia has cited as the reason for its infrastructure strikes. Since then, Russia has lost significant ground, including withdrawing from the regional capital city of Kherson.

Given those territorial losses, Putin appears increasingly boxed in, paranoid and hostile as his economy sinks and his global influence wanes.

Setbacks in the war in Ukraine reduce Russia’s influence over regional allies

However, instead of demonstrating a willingness to compromise, senior Russian officials have increasingly issued discredited conspiracy theories, claiming that Russia is really the victim of the war, and trying to pin the blame for the ongoing fighting on Ukraine because it refused to accept the Russian government. requirements.

Putin’s illegal annexations were designed to draw new Russian red lines and take the territories off the table in future peace negotiations, terms he knew Kiev could never accept. But Russia was forced to surrender the city of Kherson and other territory west of the Dnieper River, even after Russian officials repeatedly hinted that they would defend the “new territories” with nuclear weapons.

Both Moscow and Kiev are bracing for a bitter winter campaign that could determine the fate of both.

Scholz initiated the hour-long phone call to Putin on Friday, but it was not clear whether it was being coordinated with allies or even other European Union countries, which have struggled in recent days to agree on a plan to put a cap on Russian to put oil on. Prices. A spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said it had not been briefed prior to Scholz’s call.

Macron and Scholz have received criticism for their intermittent contacts with Putin.

Macron was accused of naively continuing to engage with Putin, even as the Russian leader showed no willingness to change course in Ukraine.

In the early days after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Scholz was criticized for the slow pace of arms deliveries and hesitation, leading critics to question whether he was trying to hold open a door to the Kremlin.

Even as Germany has announced what it has called a Zeitenwende, or turning point, in foreign policy, bolstered security and sent weapons to Ukraine, reality has not kept pace with expectations.

At a security conference in Berlin earlier this week, Scholz said he would like to see a return to the previous “order of peace” that existed in Europe. , 18th, 17th century, where a stronger country thinks it can take the territory of a neighboring country,” he said. “We need to get back to a situation where we agree again that borders are not changed by force.

In its statement on Friday, the German government said Scholz told Putin that a diplomatic solution, including a withdrawal of Russian troops, should be reached as soon as possible.

Some EU countries have also suggested that such talks with Putin risk revealing divisions among Western allies, when in fact they should present a united front of support for Ukraine.

Western allies are trying to limit the price of Russian oil to $60 a barrel

Russia quietly relies on the hope that European unity over support for Ukraine will shatter over the winter, believing that rising inflation and energy costs, as well as the rising costs of war, could arouse popular anger.

A senior Eastern European official said he was not informed in advance of Scholz’s call and that he learned about it through news reports. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, expressed concern that a call from Scholz could be interpreted by Putin as a sign of European weakness, possibly a signal that he is willing to accept an outcome other than “ the complete liberation of Ukraine”. .”

At this point, the official said, “it shouldn’t be about dialogue” but about making sure there is no “space for Russia to continue terrorizing its neighbors.” With all the recent focus on holding Russia accountable, the official added, speaking to the “person essentially responsible for these crimes” sends an ambivalent signal.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia did indeed attack civilian energy infrastructure, but claimed it was a military target and that the attacks were designed to disrupt Western arms supplies to Ukraine.

He claimed that Ukraine’s energy system has been “subordinated to Kiev’s military interests”.

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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