Kremlin rejects Biden’s offer to meet Putin if Russia leaves Ukraine

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says US rejection of annexed territories in Ukraine complicates any possible meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not prepared to withdraw troops from Ukraine as a prerequisite to talks with US President Joe Biden although Kremlin officials say Moscow is open to dialogue. EPA
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The Kremlin on Friday said its Ukraine offensive will press ahead and that terms set out by US President Joe Biden for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin made any meeting difficult.

While Moscow said Mr Putin was open to talks, they rejected the conditions laid down by Mr Biden, who said he would be open to a meeting if Russia withdrew its forces from Ukraine.

"What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Moscow, he said, was certainly not ready to accept those conditions.

"The special military operation is continuing," Mr Peskov said, using the Kremlin term for the invasion of Ukraine.

During a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Biden said on Thursday that he would be willing to speak to Mr Putin if the Russian leader truly wants to end the fighting.

"I'm prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he's looking for a way to end the war," the US leader said.

But Mr Biden said he had no immediate plans to reach out to Mr Putin and would do so only in consultation with other Nato heads of state.

While he rejected the US President’s comments, Mr Peskov insisted that Russia was open to dialogue on the right basis.

"The President of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests," he said.

"The most preferable way to achieve our interests is through peaceful, diplomatic means," Mr Peskov added. "Putin was, is and remains open to contacts and negotiations."

Mr Peskov added that Mr Biden’s stance on lands Russia has tried to annex complicates any possible dialogue.

"The United States does not recognise new territories as part of the Russian Federation," Mr Peskov said, referring to Ukrainian regions that the Kremlin claims to have annexed.

In September, Moscow held what it called referendums in four regions of Ukraine ― Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia ― and said residents had voted in favour of becoming subjects of Russia.

The United Nations has condemned the "attempted illegal annexation" of Ukrainian land. The referendums are not widely recognised.

Mr Peskov also addressed the US rejection of its attempted annexation of Ukrainian lands.

The Kremlin spokesman said that before sending troops to Ukraine on February 24, Mr Putin had repeatedly proposed talks with Nato, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United States, but those attempts had not been successful.

Mr Putin has said he has no regrets about launching what he calls Russia's "special military operation" against Ukraine and casts the war as a watershed moment when Russia finally stood up to an arrogant western hegemony after decades of humiliation in the years since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine and the West say Mr Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation.

Ukraine says it will fight until the last Russian soldier is ejected from its territory.

Updated: December 02, 2022, 11:56 AM