Russian leader says he is 'prepared to negotiate' an end Ukraine war

Putin ‘ready for peace talks’: Russian leader tells state TV he is ‘prepared to negotiate’ an end Ukraine war – as one of his ex-commanders slams ‘stupid stubbornness’ of Kremlin’s war strategy

  • Vladimir Putin claims he’s ‘prepared to negotiate acceptable outcomes’ over war
  • Russian president made comments despite relentless bombardment of Ukraine 
  • Comes after criticism today from ex-Russian commander about military losses
  • Igor Girkin is a staunch Russian nationalist but has attacked leaders’ war tactics

Vladimir Putin claimed today that he is willing to hold talks with Ukraine – as an ex Russian spy and military commander has slammed the ‘stupid stubbornness’ of his war leaders and said any hope for success in the Donbas is ‘ephemeral’.

In an interview with state television, excerpts of which were released today, Putin said that Russia is ‘prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with all the participants of this process.’ 

Contrary to the Russian president’s comments, the Kremlin has been ramping up its attacks on the south and east of the country over the Christmas period – a clear sign that peace isn’t imminent.

Igor Girkin, a former FSB officer who led fighting in Donbas in 2014 and is now a self-styled ‘war blogger’, decried Russia’s latest war efforts in the area, which he believes are likely to end in major losses.

Images show Russian president Vladimir Putin speaking with a journalist on Russian state TV about the war against Ukraine

Igor Girkin (left), a former FSB officer who led fighting in Donbas in 2014 and is now a self-styled ‘war blogger’, hit out at the ‘stupid stubbornness’ of Russian military leaders

‘My prediction: this attempt to break through the enemy’s long-standing defense will be no more successful than all other similar attempts made in 10 months on the Donetsk front,’ Girkin wrote on Telegram today. 

‘The result of it will be minor wedges into the enemy’s defense line, the destruction of the liberated settlements to the point of complete impossibility of living in them and… the loss of the bulk of the infantry that is put into battle.’ 

Girkin, who goes by the nom-de-guerre Strelkov, meaning ‘shooter’, is a staunch Russian nationalist and helped to lead the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – but has since been vocal in his criticism of Russian military leadership and tactics.

Apartment buildings in Bakhmut damaged from missile strikes are seen, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

The interior of apartment buildings damaged from missile strikes is pictured, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, during intense shelling on Christmas Day at the frontline in Bakhmut, Ukraine

In a thinly-veiled attack on commanders, who he previously said ‘leave much to be desired’, Girkin described them as ‘sheep’ in his post today and suggested they should ‘personally participate’ in their own plans.

The Kremlin has pushed ahead in its assault on the region, despite major losses and on the battlefield in recent months, and has said it will fight until all its aims are achieved.

Meanwhile, Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from all of its territory.

‘We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,’ Putin told Rossiya 1 state television.

The Kremlin has repeated this sentiment in recent months, as its invasion of Ukraine, which was launched in February, continues to lose momentum. 

Vladimir Putin pictured on Friday. The Russian leader  added in his comments about Ukraine, which were broadcast on Christmas day, that ‘it’s not us who refuse talks, it’s them’ – a statement he has repeatedly made

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Putin needed to return to reality and acknowledge it was Russia which did not want talks.

‘Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,’ the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted. ‘Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.’

Putin also repeated that Moscow has ‘no other choice’ and said he believed the Kremlin was ‘acting in the right direction.’

‘We’re defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people,’ he said.

Putin’s remarks come as attacks on Ukraine continue. A country-wide air raid alert was announced twice on Sunday alone, and three missiles in the afternoon hit the city of Kramatorsk in the partially occupied Donetsk region, local officials reported.

A Ukrainian BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher fires a rocket on December 25, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

The missiles hit an industrial area of the city, and there weren’t any casualties, according to the Ukrainian governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko. 

Kyrylenko said that the city of Avdiivka was also attacked on Sunday with six rounds of shelling, and that a woman was wounded there.

Elsewhere in the front-line region, around the city of Bakhmut, where fierce battles have been underway in recent weeks, the Russian forces were struggling to keep up the pace of their offensive, a US-based think tank reported this weekend.

This photograph taken on December 25, 2022, shows Sviatohirsk Cave Monastery, ‘an Orthodox Christian monastery’, partially damaged by shelling in the town of Sviatohirsk, in Donetsk region

‘Russian forces’ rate of advance in the Bakhmut area has likely slowed in recent days, although it is too early to assess whether the Russian offensive to capture Bakhmut has culminated,’ the Institute for the Study of War wrote in its recent update.

The think tank cited Russian military bloggers, who it said have recently acknowledged ‘that Ukrainian forces in the Bakhmut area have managed to slightly slow down the pace of the Russian advance around Bakhmut and its surrounding settlements.’

Sources on Ukrainian social media ‘previously claimed that Ukrainian forces completely pushed Russian forces out of the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut’ around December 21, the report added.

Volodymyr, 61, and Nataliia Bolias, 51, walk past an industrial building that received a missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, during intense shelling on Christmas Day at the frontline in Bakhmut

‘Russian forces will likely struggle to maintain the pace of their offensive operations in the Bakhmut area and may seek to initiate a tactical or operational pause,’ the institute concluded.

A day before, a deadly Russian attack on the southern city of Kherson, retaken by Ukrainian forces last month, killed and wounded scores of people.

The Russian forces shelled Ukrainian-held areas of the partially occupied Kherson region 71 times over the past 24 hours, including 41 attacks on the city of Kherson, the region’s Ukrainian governor Yaroslav Yanushevich reported on Sunday.

A total of 16 people have been killed, according to the official, including three emergency workers killed in the process of demining the Berislav district of the region. Yanushevich said that 64 more have been wounded.

In the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk region, the city of Nikopol was shelled overnight from heavy artillery, Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said.  No casualties have been reported.

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