The Kremlin on Thursday accused Kyiv and Washington of turning a deaf ear to its concerns and accused the United States of using Ukraine as a battlefield to weaken Russia.
This comes as President Putin insists Russia aims to end the fighting quickly.
“Our goal is … to end this conflict. We are working towards that,” he told reporters. “We’re going to try to make sure it’s over, and the sooner the better.”
“All conflicts somehow end in negotiations … the sooner our opponents (in Kyiv) understand this, the better it will be,” Putin said.
Moscow’s military chief said Russian troops were now focused on seizing control of areas east of Donetsk, where the battered city of Bahmut had become the center of fighting.
In recent months, Moscow officials have repeatedly said they did not rule out talks with Ukraine.
They blamed the closure of diplomatic channels on President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has said he will not negotiate while Putin is in power.
The Ukrainian leader returned from a historic trip to Washington, where he told Congress his country was “vibrant” and supporting it was an investment in global security.
He received a hero’s welcome during Wednesday’s lightning tour, where President Joe Biden pledged nearly $1.8 billion in military supplies, including the Patriot missile defense system for the first time.
Putin warned that this could further prolong the conflict, saying: “Those who confront us say it is a defensive weapon … There will always be an antidote.”
“People who do this are in vain. This is just prolonging the conflict, that’s all,” he told reporters.
Earlier, the Kremlin said Biden and Zelensky were not listening to “Russia’s concerns.”
“No warnings were heard from Zelensky not to continue shelling residential buildings in towns and villages in the Donbass, and no real appeals for peace,” said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“This shows that the US is continuing its course of de facto indirect war with Russia to the last Ukrainian,” he added.
Focus on Donetsk
Russian army chief Valery Gerasimov said the Russian army was “focused on completing the liberation of Donetsk”.
Eastern Ukraine is one of four regions Moscow claims to annex — though it has never fully controlled it.
Gerasimov also said Russia was using hypersonic missiles in Ukraine for the first time, including Kinzhal missiles – part of an arsenal that Putin described as “invincible”.
“Critical transport and energy infrastructure deep within Ukrainian territory continues to be damaged,” Gerasimov added.
Ukraine fears mounting missile attacks and faces a flurry of attacks from drones, many of which Russia bought from Iran, as Moscow destroys power plants and other civilian infrastructure as the country freezes in winter trembling.
In Donetsk, an AFP reporter visited the front-line village of Bogorodychne, from which the Russians have been driven out.
Its pre-conflict population of about 1,000 is all that remains of Yuri Ponomarenko, 54, who returned a few weeks ago, “a mother and son who never left,” he said.
“I felt like I needed to come back, I just had to,” said Ponomarenko, who braved landmines to return home, with rubble and wrecked cars strewn across the ransacked village.
In the southern area around the recently recaptured town of Kherson — which has been shelled by Russian troops — officials said they found a grave containing six people with “signs of torture.”
On Thursday, Zelenskiy said he stopped in Poland on his way home from the United States and “discussed future strategic plans” with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Meanwhile, a car bomb exploded in the Russian-held village of Lyubimivka in southern Ukraine, killing an official, the latest in a string of attacks targeting officials with ties to Russia, Moscow authorities said.
“Today, Andrei Nikolayevich Shtepa, a sincere patriot of his country, tragically died in a car explosion,” authorities said in a telegram, blaming the death on on “Ukrainian terrorists”.
Ljubimivka lies on the east bank of the Dnieper River, which Moscow troops captured after retreating from the city of Kherson last month, making the river a new front line.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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