Putin says Russia is prepared to negotiate over Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin leads a meeting with the new cabinet members at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 14. (AP)

BEIJING, May 15, (AP): Russian President Vladimir Putin says his regime is prepared to negotiate over the conflict in Ukraine in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of visit to partner Beijing that has backed Moscow in its full-scale invasion of its neighbor.
“We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours,” Putin was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.
The Russian leader’s two-day trip starting Thursday comes as his country’s forces have pressed an offensive in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region that began last week in the most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began, forcing almost 8,000 people to flee their homes.
Along with Moscow’s efforts to build on its gains in the nearby Donetsk region, the 2-year-old war has entered a critical stage for Ukraine’s depleted military that is awaiting new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery shells from the United States.
“We have never refused to negotiate,” Putin was quoted as saying by Xinhua. “We are seeking a comprehensive, sustainable and just settlement of this conflict through peaceful means. We are open to a dialogue on Ukraine, but such negotiations must take into account the interests of all countries involved in the conflict, including ours.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said any negotiations must include a restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression, and security guarantees for Ukraine.
China claims to take a neutral position in the conflict, but has backed Moscow’s contentions that Russia was provoked into attacking Ukraine by the West, despite Putin’s public avowals of his desire to restore Russia’s century-old borders as the reason for his assault.

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