Vladimir Putin told Kiev that it should quickly accept Moscow’s terms or prepare for the worst, adding ominously that Russia had only just begun its actions in Ukraine.
The the Russian president also accused Western allies of fueling hostilities, saying “the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian.”
“This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it seems that it is moving in this direction,” he said during a meeting with the leaders of the Kremlin-controlled parliament.
“Everyone should know that, in fact, we haven’t really started anything yet.”
He insisted Russia remains willing to come to the table to negotiate a cessation of hostilities, but “those who refuse to do so should know that the longer this goes on, the harder it will be for them to make a deal with us.”
“We hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield,” he added.
– Let them try.
The Kremlin wants Kyiv to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed. Ukraine in 2014.
It also demands independence for Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and acceptance of the existing situation on the ground – a reference to other land gains made after the February 24 invasion.
After failing to capture Kyiv and other major cities in northeastern Ukraine at the start of the campaign, the Russian military has turned its attention to the eastern industrial center of Ukraine, the Donbass, where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014.
Earlier this week, the Russian military claimed control of Luhansk Oblast, one of the two regions that make up Donbas, and is preparing to move into the other, Donetsk Oblast.
• The Ukrainian flag flew over Zmyain Island again
• Western artillery is working “very hard”, says President Zelensky
• Representatives of the G20 countries, including Russia, are gathering in Bali
• Heavy shelling along frontline in Donetsk, but no progress on either side, says UK MoD
• Ukraine considers “treason” by giving up the territory “not an option”, said the mayor of Kyiv
In the early stages of the conflict, Russia gained control over the southern Kherson region and part of neighboring Zaporozhye.
It is expected that Moscow will try to finally cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea coast to the border with Romania.
Putin reaffirmed his long-standing claim that the West is using the conflict in Ukraine to try to isolate and weaken Russia.
“They simply don’t need a country like Russia,” he said.
“To do this, they used terrorism, separatism and internal destructive forces in our country.”
He accused that Western sanctions against Russia have not achieved the goal of “sowing division and discord in our society and demoralizing our people.”
“The course of history cannot be stopped, and attempts by the collective West to impose its version of world order are doomed to failure.”
However, Ukraine’s chief negotiator Mikhail Padalyak rejected these statements.
There is no “collective West” plan. Only a particular z-army that entered sovereign Ukraine, shelling cities and killing civilians,” he tweeted.
“Everything else is primitive propaganda. Therefore, Mr. Putin’s mantra about “war to the last Ukrainian” is another proof of Russia’s purposeful genocide.