Russia open to talks on Ukraine – Kremlin
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to negotiations on Ukraine but the West must accept Moscow’s demands.
The Kremlin’s statement comes a day after U.S. President Joe Biden said he was willing to talk if Putin were looking for a way to end the war.
Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron said after talks at the White House on Thursday that they would hold Russia to account for its actions in Ukraine but the U.S. president also appeared to hold out an olive branch to Moscow while stressing he saw no sign of any change in Putin’s stance.
Biden said he was ready to speak with Putin “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war”, adding the Russian leader “hasn’t done that yet”.
Macron said he would continue to talk to Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results” such as the safety of nuclear plants.
In Moscow’s first public response to Biden’s overture, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.”
Peskov said the U.S. refusal to recognise annexed territory in Ukraine as Russia was hindering a search for ways to end the war. Moscow has previously sought sweeping security guarantees including a reversal of NATO’s eastern enlargement.
Biden has not spoken directly with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Missile defence system
Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said it tested a new missile defence system rocket on Friday.
The missile was launched from the Sary Shagan testing range in Kazakhstan, the defence ministry said. Other than saying the test was successful, the ministry gave few other details.