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Putin seeks 'honest' talks with West

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-24 07:13
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Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Photo/Agencies]

Russian leader's offer for more dialogue on Ukraine comes amid fresh sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a direct and honest dialogue with the West over the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday amid the latest rounds of sanctions announced by the United States and Europe.

"Our country is always open for direct and honest dialogue, for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems," Putin said in a video address to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day, a national holiday to celebrate the contributions of current and former personnel in the Russian Armed Forces.

In his speech, Putin congratulated the country's service personnel, saying he was certain of the "professionalism" of the Russian military in standing up for Russia's national interests.

He praised the battle-readiness of the Russian army and said the country would continue to develop state-of-the-art weapons.

"The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are nonnegotiable for us," he said.

"We will continue to develop advanced weapon systems, including hypersonic and those based on new physical principles, and expand the use of advanced digital technologies and elements of artificial intelligence."

Putin spoke after parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, on Tuesday gave him unanimous approval to deploy "peacekeepers" to two Ukrainian regions-"the Lugansk People's Republic" and "the Donetsk People's Republic"-now recognized by Moscow as independent and sovereign states.

Some 153 Russian senators backed the decision, Russian media reported.

On Wednesday, Russia started evacuating its diplomatic staff from all of its diplomatic facilities in Ukraine, the TASS news agency reported, citing a representative of Russia's embassy in Kyiv.

One day earlier, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said: "Negotiations have stalled. The Ukrainian leadership has taken the path of violence and bloodshed." He was speaking during a session of the Federation Council called at Putin's request.

Preventing aggression

Also on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had established diplomatic relations with the two regions.

The moves from Russia triggered the latest round of sanctions by the West.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced tough sanctions in response to Russia's "beginning" an invasion of Ukraine, but said there was still time to avoid war.

Biden announced what he called the "first tranche" of sanctions, including steps to starve Russia of financing and target financial institutions and the country's "elites".

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc's members agreed on a package of new sanctions against Russia targeting the members of parliament that backed recognition of the two Ukrainian regions as independent states.

The EU sanctions will blacklist more Russian politicians, lawmakers and officials, ban EU investors from trading in Russian state bonds, and target imports and exports with some entities. However, EU foreign ministers chose not to sanction Putin, Borrell said.

Japan, Australia and Canada followed suit early on Wednesday with their own stringent penalties for Moscow and individuals.

Russia's foreign ministry on Wednesday said it would respond strongly to the new US sanctions in a way that would be sensitive and weighted toward Washington.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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