“Vladimir Putin drew attention to the destructive line of the Kiev regime, which, with the help of Western sponsors who are increasing the volume of arms and military equipment supplied, is counting on intensifying hostilities,” the Kremlin said on Monday after the phone call between Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Just last weekend, Russia launched a particularly heavy wave of attacks on Ukraine, which it had invaded almost eleven months ago. A Russian projectile hit a high-rise building in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least 40 people.
The Kremlin again accused Kyiv of a lack of willingness to negotiate – citing as an example the rejection of a ceasefire ordered by Putin for the Orthodox Christmas period in early January. At the time, Ukraine rejected the move as hypocritical, and many international observers also spoke of Putin’s purely propaganda gesture.
The shooting continued from both sides. Ukraine has repeatedly emphasized that it is willing to negotiate – but only if Russian soldiers return territory occupied in violation of international law.
At the suggestion of Turkey, Putin’s talks with Erdogan also included further prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlin said. The newspaper “Hürriyet” reported, citing the Turkish ombudsman, Seref Malkoc, that the exchange involves around 1,000 people – 800 Ukrainians and 200 Russians. Details on this were not known.
According to the Kremlin, the phone call with Erdogan was also about the implementation of the grain agreement. The agreement provides for the end of the Russian naval blockade of the Ukrainian Black Sea ports around Odessa. In return, the obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers are to be removed. The Turkish side also confirmed the phone call and announced that Erdogan had once again offered to mediate for a lasting peace.