A day after President Vladimir Putin said he was open to talks on Ukraine, Russia’s foreign minister lashed out, saying Kiev and the West were trying to destroy his country and Ukraine must comply with Moscow’s demands or the will of its military.
Ukraine rejected Putin’s offer for talks, as his forces continued to fire missiles and rockets at Ukrainian cities and Moscow continued to demand that Kiev recognize the seizure of a fifth of the country.
Kiev has said it will fight until Russia withdraws.
“Our proposals… are well known to the enemy,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late Monday, according to state news agency TASS.
“The point is simple: fill them in for your own good.” Otherwise, the issue will be decided by the Russian army.
The US and NATO want to weaken or destroy Russia
Putin launched his full-scale invasion on February 24, claiming the goal was to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine, which he said posed a threat to Russia.
Kiev and the West say Putin’s invasion was just an imperialist land grab. The US and its allies imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia over its invasion and sent billions of dollars in aid to the Ukrainian government.
Just last week, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was visiting Washington, the US announced another $1.85 billion (€1.69 billion) in military aid to Ukraine, including the transfer of the Patriot air defense system, angering Moscow.
“It’s no secret that the strategic goal of the US and its NATO allies is to defeat Russia on the battlefield as a mechanism for significantly weakening or even destroying our country,” Lavrov further told TASS.
He repeated that Moscow and Washington cannot maintain a normal relationship, blaming the administration of US President Joe Biden.
While Moscow planned a swift operation to take over its neighbor, the war is now in its 11th month, marked by many embarrassing failures on the Russian battlefield.
In the latest attack to expose gaps in Russia’s air defenses, a drone believed to be Ukrainian flew hundreds of kilometers through Russian airspace on Monday, causing a deadly explosion at the main base of its strategic bombers.
Moscow troops are still bombing Ukraine
Russian forces have been engaged in fierce fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine for months to defend the lands that Moscow declared annexed in September and that make up Ukraine’s wider Donbass industrial region.
In the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in the areas of two settlements in the Luhansk region and six in the Donetsk region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on Tuesday.
In his late-night video message on Monday, Zelensky called the situation along the front line in Donbas “difficult and painful.”
Oleh Zhdanov, a Kiev-based military analyst, said heavy fighting was taking place over elevated areas near Kremenje in the Luhansk region.
He also said fighting had intensified along Bakhmut and Avdiyivka, the contact line further south in the Donetsk region, after a brief lull in previous days.
“The arc of fire in the Donetsk region continues to burn,” Zhdanov said in a video post on social media.
Zelensky said that due to the attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine, almost nine million people were left without electricity. That figure is about a quarter of the population of Ukraine.
Sergei Kovalenko, head of IASNO, which supplies Kyiv with electricity, said late Monday that although the city’s power situation was improving, blackouts would continue.
“While repairs are underway, emergency shutdowns will continue,” Kovalenko said on his Facebook page.
Putin hosted leaders of other former Soviet states in St. Petersburg on Monday for a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States group, from which Ukraine has long since left.
The invasion of Ukraine was a test of Russia’s longstanding authority among other former Soviet states.
In televised statements, Putin did not directly mention the war, while he said that threats to the security and stability of the Eurasian region are increasing.
“Unfortunately, the challenges and threats in this area, especially from the outside, only grow every year,” he said. “We also have to acknowledge … that disagreements also occur between Commonwealth member states.”