Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was ready to negotiate “with everyone involved in the war with Ukraine.”
Putin told a Russian news reporter in an interview broadcast on Russian media on Sunday that the Kremlin is ready to negotiate, but their enemy is those who refuse to speak.
The Russian leader’s statements follow the intense Russian shelling of the Ukrainian city of Kherson on Christmas Eve, which killed at least 10 people and injured more than 50 others.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday denounced Russia as “absolutely evil” following the deadly attacks, which he said were “intended to intimidate and amuse.”
Zelensky and President Biden discussed what a “just peace” would look like as Zelensky visited the United States on Wednesday for his first international trip since the war began in February.
Zelensky has set out a series of ten conditions that must be met for peace to be achieved, including Russia’s complete withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. This would include a Russian retreat from the Crimean Peninsula in accordance with Ukraine’s demands.
Russia conquered Crimea in 2014 following a Russian-backed referendum that was condemned as illegal by most members of the international community.
Putin has previously called on Ukraine and the international community to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, which they were not prepared to do.
Putin said in the interview that Russia was defending its national interests and its citizens in the 10-month conflict, The Associated Press reported. However, he said Russia was ready to negotiate “some acceptable results” with all participants in the conflict.
Putin described the conflict as war for the first time in a televised press conference on Thursday and said it was Russia’s goal to end it. Previously, he only described it as a “special military operation.”