News World Putin says war will go on as peace talks hit ‘dead end’
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Putin says war will go on as peace talks hit ‘dead end’

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Vladimir Putin says peace talks with Ukraine have hit a “dead end” and fighting will continue until Russia achieves what he claims are “noble” goals.

Those goals, the Russian president said, centred on the separatist Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Western officials expect that area to be the target of even more major violence by invading forces – and reporters on the ground have already seen more tanks arriving and deliveries of military equipment in the area. 

“We will act rhythmically and calmly, according to the plan that was initially proposed by the general staff,” Mr Putin said.

“Our goal is to help the people who live in the Donbas, who feel their unbreakable bond with Russia.”

He repeatedly claimed Ukraine “didn’t leave us [Russia] a choice” but to invade Ukraine because a clash with Western-trained “neo-Nazis” was inevitable.

State television on Tuesday showed Mr Putin visiting the Vostochny space base in Russia’s Far East, accompanied by his ally, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, to mark the anniversary of the Soviet success in launching the first manned space flight.

Asked by Russian space agency workers if the operation in Ukraine would achieve its goals, Mr Putin said: “Absolutely. I don’t have any doubt at all.”

“Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” he said.

The Donbas region includes Mariupol port, which has been reduced to a wasteland under Russian siege.

Mariupol residents are suffering without food and water. Photo: Getty

Ukraine has reported tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped inside that city with no way to bring in food or water, and accuses Russia of blocking aid convoys.

On Tuesday, the battle for Mariupol appeared to be reaching a decisive phase amid reports chemical weapons had made people ill in the city.

Australia, Britain and the US are trying to verify those reports.
American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US could not yet confirm whether a chemical agent had been used but said the Pentagon had “credible information” Russia was willing to use such weapons in Mariupol.

“We share that information with Ukraine… and we’re in direct conversation with partners to try to determine what actually is happening, so this is a real concern,” Mr Blinken said.

Mariupol’s mayor Vadym Boychenko said on Wednesday morning that an estimated 21,000 civilians had died in his city since the start of the invasion.

Ukraine president pleads with EU

As officials in the city at the centre of alleged war crimes count 403 dead bodies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again called for more help.

Mr Zelensky urged the European Union to impose sanctions on all Russian banks and oil and to set a deadline for ending gas imports.

“We cannot wait … We need powerful decisions, and the EU must take them now. They must sanction oil and all Russian banks … Each EU state must set terms for when they will refuse or limit (Russian) energy sources such as gas”, he said via video link on Tuesday night.

“Only then will the Russian government understand they need to seek peace, that the war is turning into a catastrophe for them,” he told the Lithuanian parliament in a video address.

The EU executive is drafting proposals for a possible EU oil embargo on Russia, foreign ministers have said, although there is still no agreement to ban Russian crude.

Galvanised by what Ukraine says are senseless killings of civilians by Russian troops since the start of the invasion, the bloc last week approved a fifth round of sanctions on Russia that included an end to Russian coal imports.

Mr Zelensky told the parliament that Russian soldiers had behaved the same everywhere they had stayed as they did in the town of Bucha.

Bucha officials said on Wednesday morning that 403 people had so far been confirmed dead in that area.

But in his latest remarks, Mr Putin claimed photographs showing civilian bodies in the streets of Bucha were faked.

Russian forces are accused of killing many civilians there, although the Kremlin has denied this and has repeatedly claimed the violence was staged.

The Belarusian president added a new theory on Wednesday morning, saying that British forces had orchestrated the killings.

“We discussed in detail this psychological special operation that the English carried out,” Mr Lukashenko said, referring to Bucha.

He did not provide evidence.

Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky also said Russia had deported hundreds of thousands of people from occupied Ukrainian regions into “filtration camps”.

-with AAP