Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow saw no desire from Ukraine to meet the terms of what he called an initial peace deal agreed in March.
Putin told reporters in televised comments after a visit to Iran that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were offering mediation between Russia and Ukraine, which Russian forces invaded in late February.
There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian government to Putin’s comments in the early hours of Wednesday.
Asked about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Putin said, however, that Kyiv had not adhered to the terms of the initial peace agreement which he said was “practically achieved” in March, without further details.
“The end result of course … depends on the willingness of the contracting parties to implement the agreements that have been reached. Today we see that the forces in Kyiv have no such desire.”
Negotiations took place in March, with both sides submitting proposals but no breakthrough. At the time, Zelensky said that only a tangible outcome from the talks could be trusted.
Putin met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Tuesday, cementing ties between the two countries under Western sanctions.
During his visit to Iran, Putin also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a deal that would resume Ukrainian grain exports in the Black Sea, now besieged by Russia.
Putin, who was shown by Russia’s state TV answering media questions at the end of his visit to Iran, said Russia was ready to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, but also wanted to remove remaining restrictions on Russia’s grain exports.
The Russian leader had said on Tuesday that not all issues related to grain shipments had been resolved yet, “but the fact that there is really good movement.”
It was Putin’s first personal meeting with a NATO leader since the invasion by Russian forces and was a message to the West about Russian plans for closer strategic ties with Iran, China and India to help offset Western sanctions imposed over the invasion.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the trip shows how isolated Russia is. Kirby also said the United States was preparing to unveil another arms deal to Ukraine. Citing US intelligence, he accused Russia of laying the foundations for the annexation of Ukrainian territory.
The Kremlin has said there is no time limit to the conflict, which it calls a “special military operation” to ensure its security. Ukraine and the West condemn it as an unjustified war of aggression against its neighbour.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrei Yermak, said in an interview with a magazine published on Tuesday that Russia was trying to “drag” Ukraine into a protracted conflict until winter.
“It is very important for us not to go into winter. After winter, when the Russians have more time to dig, it will definitely be more difficult” for any Ukrainian counterattack, Yermak said.
It’s been more than two weeks since Russia’s last major territorial gain – it captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyschansk. But in a now-familiar pattern, Russian missiles hit targets across Ukraine on Tuesday.
Ukrainian authorities said that at least one person was killed in a Russian missile attack on the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine.
“I felt a really strong explosion and realized it was somewhere here,” said Valentina, 70, a local resident whose son-in-law, Maxim, was seriously injured in the attack.
“I called my daughter and said that Maxim is not answering the phone. She screamed.
Video footage from the scene showed a large pool of blood among the fallen leaves.
The Ukrainian Air Force said in a Facebook post that it had shot down a Russian fighter plane with a missile over Nova Kakhovka, east of the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the Ukrainian account.
As the war dragged on, fears grew that Russia would cut off natural gas supplies to Europe. In response, the European Union is considering a voluntary 15% cut in the use of natural gas by member states starting next month, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing EU diplomats.
Brussels is expected to publish plans on Wednesday on how the 27 member states of the European Union can reduce gas use. The exact number of the cut target was not specified in a draft document of the plan seen by Reuters.
Putin said the Kremlin-controlled energy giant, Gazprom, was ready to fulfill its commitments on gas exports, and was not responsible for reducing gas transport capacity, including the closure of one of the routes through Ukraine to Europe via Kyiv.