Putin accuses Ukraine of going back on promises made at Istanbul talks 

Putin claimed that until Ukraine recognizes Crimea as part of Russia and the independence of the Donbass republics, “no progress could be reached in the talks”

April 13, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Yevgeny Biyatov/POOL/TASS)

Amid the ongoing online negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed on Tuesday, April 12, that the talks have been “deadlocked” after Ukraine went back on some of its proposals made during the in-person talks held in Istanbul in late March. 

Speaking to the press during his visit to Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east, Putin claimed that until Ukraine recognizes Crimea as part of Russia and the independence of the Donbass republics, “no progress could be reached in the talks,” RT reported.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhail Podolyk however claimed that though difficult, the online talks are going on. He accused Russia of trying to create pressure by giving public statements about the talks. 

Last week, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and head of the Russian delegation in the talks Vladimir Medinsky had expressed cautious hope that the Ukrainian delegation had agreed to provide considerable concessions on crucial issues during the talks in Istanbul. Lavrov had however blamed the West for creating hurdles in the progress of the talks by using the “openly false provocation” of the Bucha killings. 

On Tuesday, Putin reiterated Russia’s stand on Bucha and denied any involvement of its troops in the mass killings. He even called it “fake” and said that the Western claims were based on their “imagination” of “chemical attacks” in Syria by the Assad government. Putin also blamed the West for following double standards and maintaining silence on the NATO and US killings in Syria, Afghanistan, and other places. 

After the release of a video showing scores of dead bodies lying in the streets in Bucha city on April 2, Ukraine blamed Russian troops for the mass killings. Ukrainian officials had retaken control of the city on March 30. Russia denied any involvement in the killings and demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter.              

Russia was later suspended from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by a vote in the UN General Assembly on April 7 over alleged human rights violations in Ukraine including the killings in Bucha.  

German president cancels trip

In a surprise development, German president Frank Walter Steinmeier claimed on Tuesday that he had to cancel his trip to Kiev on Wednesday as part of a larger delegation of European presidents after Ukrainian president Vlodomyr Zelensky conveyed to him that he “wasn’t wanted.” This development is expected to create a diplomatic row between Germany and Ukraine. 

Steinmeier claimed that he was to visit Kiev along with the presidents of Poland and the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in “a strong signal of joint European solidarity with Ukraine.” 

Ukraine has alleged that Steinmeier is close to Russia. In 2016, Steinmeier as the foreign minister in Angela Merkel’s government was involved in efforts to implement the Minsk agreement signed between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France as a solution to the war in Donbass region.  

Russian offensive limited to east and south of Ukraine

Following the talks in Istanbul, Russia withdrew all its troops from north-east of Ukraine and is now focusing on the south and eastern parts and particularly the Donbass region. Speaking about the course of the Russian offensive, Putin claimed on Tuesday that its slow speed is a deliberate move to minimize casualties. Claiming that the Russian operation in Ukraine is “going according to the plan,” Putin said that “the intensity of hostilities is directly related to casualties” and “our task is to achieve the set goals while minimizing these losses.” 

The battle in the southern port city Mariupol is still going on with Ukrainians alleging that Russian forces have used chemical weapons in the city. The allegations were repeated by the US which was countered by the Russian embassy in the country as baseless “idle talk,” Tass reported.  

Meanwhile, a large number of Ukrainian have started returning to their homes in the north-west following the Russian withdrawal. However, the number of civilians killed due to the war has increased to 1,842, with over 2,400 injured by April 11, according to the UN. The migration from the east and south continues.   

The Russian offensive inside Ukraine began on February 24 following the failure of NATO and Ukraine to address Russia’s major security concerns. Putin had claimed that the “special operation” will “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine. Russia has demanded that Ukraine become a “neutral” country by not seeking membership of NATO.