Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview on state television on Sunday that Moscow wants to negotiate, even as Ukrainian cities were hit with a missile bombardment over the Christmas weekend.
“We are ready to negotiate with all those involved on acceptable solutions, but that depends on them: we are not the ones who refuse to negotiate, yes,” Putin said.
The claim was rejected by Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said “Putin needs to come back to reality”.
“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens. There are no other ‘countries, motives, geopolitics,'” tweeted Podolyak. “Russia does not want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”
Kherson, which was seized by Russia in the early days of the invasion but was liberated by Ukrainian forces last month, was bombed on Christmas Eve, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens of others.
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Other Ukrainian cities have also been affected by bombing in recent months, as well as the country’s energy infrastructure.
Zelenskyy, who addressed the US Congress during a visit to Washington, DC this week, urged Ukrainians to heed the air strikes in the coming days.
“There are few days left this year. We must be aware that our enemy will try to make this time dark and difficult for us,” Zelenskyy said on Christmas Day. “Russia has lost everything it could this year. But it is trying to make up for its losses with the joy of its propagandists after the missile attacks on our country, on our energy sector.”
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Both houses of Congress approved a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine after Zelenskyy’s visit, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk.
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Putin, for his part, accused the West on Sunday of trying to dismantle Russia.
“Actually, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical opponents that aims to separate Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.
Reuters contributed to this report.