Vladimir Putin dampens hopes for a negotiated settlement over Ukraine

After almost seven weeks of war, the hopes of a negotiated solution now seem vain. Russians, Ukrainians and Westerners alike spoke on Tuesday of the bloody conclusions towards which the conflict is heading.

Visiting the Russian Far East, President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday criticized the Ukrainians’ “lack of consistency” in talks with Moscow, accusing them of constantly changing positions, which “creates difficulties” in the establishing an agreement.

Referring to the summit meeting held in Turkey on March 29, the Russian head of state indicated that the two parties had spoken of a “guarantee of security in Ukraine” in exchange for the regularization of the territories annexed by Russia , or “Crimea, Sevastopol and Donbass”. However, the Ukrainian negotiators “yesterday once again changed their minds”, he claimed.

In the same breath, he recalled his military intentions, calling them “noble”.

“Our task is to achieve the objectives set while limiting losses as much as possible. We are going to act harmoniously, calmly, in accordance with the plan proposed from the outset by the general staff. »

Negotiations with Moscow for a Russian-Ukrainian peace agreement are “extremely difficult”, conceded on Tuesday an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhaïlo Podoliak, deploring that “the Russian side is sticking to its traditional tactics of pressure public about the negotiation process, in particular through certain statements”.

“It is clear that the emotional side today in the process is heavy,” he added.

Westerners resigned

Several Western leaders have been equally resigned to continued fighting.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, the first European official to visit Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine, met the Russian president on Monday and said he was “pessimistic” about the future of the invaded country.

“We should have no illusions. President Putin has massively entered into a logic of war and he is acting accordingly” in the hope of recording “a rapid military success”, he argued. “There is little interest on the Russian side for a direct meeting” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Yes, I called it genocide, because it is becoming increasingly clear that Putin is simply trying to erase the very idea that someone can be Ukrainian.

Vladimir Putin has in fact “decided that he won’t stop”, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published on Tuesday, saying he believed “rather little in our collective ability to put him around a table of short-term negotiation.

“He needs a military victory for himself,” said Mr. Macron, one of the few Western leaders to converse regularly with the Russian president.

Several analysts believe that Vladimir Putin is indeed betting on a victory in the Donbass by May 9, national day called “victory”. This date marks the Soviet triumph over the Nazis in 1945 and is celebrated every year with an imposing military parade in downtown Moscow.

For the first time since the start of the conflict, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday accused the Russian army of perpetrating “genocide” in Ukraine. “Your family’s budget, your ability to fill up on gas, none of that should depend on a dictator declaring war and committing genocide on the other side of the world,” the president said. during a trip to Iowa devoted to the fight against inflation.

A few minutes later, he persisted and signed in front of the journalists. “Yes, I called it a genocide, because it is increasingly clear that Putin is simply trying to erase the very idea that someone can be Ukrainian. »

Germany on the sidelines

In this plethora of blunt accusations made by the West, Germany suffered a symbolic setback illustrating its sidelining in the current diplomatic ballet.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted on Tuesday that he had considered visiting Ukraine with other heads of state, before accusing the Ukrainians of refusing to accept it.

It is clear that the emotional side today in the process is heavy.

This trip was to take place with the presidents of Poland and the Baltic States: “I was ready to do it, but apparently, and I must take note of it, it was not wanted in kyiv”, affirmed Mr. Steinmeier during a trip to Warsaw. The aim of this visit was “to send a strong signal of common European solidarity with Ukraine”.

The daily Picture was the first to report on this imbroglio, quoting in particular a Ukrainian diplomat who made very harsh remarks towards the president: “We all know Steinmeier’s close relations with Russia here… He is not welcome in kyiv for the moment. We’ll see if that changes. »

In recent weeks Mr. Steinmeier, who was twice Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, has come under fire for his supposed lack of firmness towards Russia.

He even admitted at the beginning of April that he had made a “mistake” by supporting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, between Russia and Germany. Mr. Steinmeier was banking on his perception that “Vladimir Putin would not accept the economic, political and moral ruin of his country for his imperial folly”.

“Like others, I was wrong,” he concluded.

With Agence France-Presse

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