US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev and said Russian President Vladimir Putin was taking the war to a new level of “barbarity”.
File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: AP)
Reuters: Russian President Vladimir Putin is not serious about peace talks with Ukraine as he takes the war to new levels of “barbarity” by turning out civilians, a top US diplomat said on Saturday.
US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials in Kiev to show support as Russia tries to destroy the country’s energy infrastructure.
“Diplomacy is definitely everyone’s objective but you have to have a willing partner,” he told reporters. “And it’s very clear, whether it’s a power attack, whether it’s the rhetoric and the general attitude of the Kremlin, Putin is not prepared or ready for it.”
US President Joe Biden said Thursday that he is ready to talk to Putin if the Russian leader is interested in ending the war. But the idea quickly died when the Kremlin said the West must recognize Moscow’s declaration of four Ukrainian regions.
Russia’s response, Nuland said, showed “how unserious they are.”
Russia has carried out massive attacks on Ukraine’s power transmission and heating infrastructure about a week since October, which Kiev and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians, a war crime.
“Putin has taken this war to a new level of brutality, bringing it home to every Ukrainian as he tries to turn off the lights and water and achieve what he couldn’t on the battlefield,” Nuland said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quick to respond.
Referring to the 1999 attack on Serbia, Zakharova said on the Telegram channel, “It is not for Nuland to teach the world – only the combined power of the United States and NATO has destroyed more power networks than the United States.”
During the attack on Serbia, according to NATO, warplanes knocked out electricity in more than 70% of the area.
Nuland also met with Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of office, who thanked Washington for the billions of dollars worth of aid it had pledged to Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s victory, we are sure, will be our collective victory,” Zelensky’s office quoted Nuland as saying.