Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Russia has no choice to continue the war because of Ukraine’s "unwillingness to negotiate."
“First they negotiate, then they refuse to negotiate, then they pass a law that prohibits any kind of negotiations, then they say they want negotiations, but public ones,” Peskov told reporters.
The comments come a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv had received signals from partners about Moscow's desire to hold direct talks. The Ukrainian leader insisted on a public format, explaining that he did not want the meeting to take place "behind the scenes” since “Russia is waging a public war.”
Peskov said it was “hard to imagine public negotiations.”
Ukraine and Russia held peace talks in the weeks after the invasion, but no results were achieved. Ukraine said negotiations with Russia are impossible until a complete military withdrawal. Zelensky has also said he would only be open to the idea if Putin is no longer in power.
Pope Open To Mediate, Blames War On Arms Dealers And "Weakening Empires"
In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Pope Francis repeated his controversial analysis of the cause of the war in Ukraine. Unlike other world leaders who squarely blame Vladimir Putin for ordering the invasion of Russia’s neighbor, the Pope has again blamed “empires” and greed.
“It makes me particularly angry and sad realizing that behind these tragedies is the craving of power and the arms trade,” Francis said. “When empires weaken they look to start wars to feel stronger, even to sell arms.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov last month said Moscow was open to possibility of the Pope playing a role as mediator in the war.
Francis has only once singled out Putin by name, choosing instead to make broad calls for peace and condemn arms dealers and historical dynamics. In the La Stampa interview Friday, he said the Vatican is ready to step in to the role of mediator, "working every day and evaluating any hypothesis that can bring us to a ceasefire and real negotiations."
Three Linked To Russian Military Get Life Sentences For 2014 Downing Of Flight MH17
A memorial cross at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Grabovo.
A Dutch court sentenced to life three men linked to Russia’ security services guilty for the shooting down of Malaysian Air flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 that killed all 298 people aboard.
Thee convictions were handed in absentia, with none of the three convicts likely to serve their sentences as they remain fugitives, believed to be in Russia, which will not extradite them. At the time, the area where the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight was shot down was the scene of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces.
“I’ve always said that our family members were the first non-Ukrainian people that were the victims of a war that started eight years ago,” said Piet Ploeg, the chairman of a group representing family members of the crash victims.
MH17 Wreckage On German Front Page
Frankfurter Allgemeine features images of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as three men were found guilty of downing the plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people.
Torture Chambers Discovered In Kherson
\u201cIn the torture rooms of #Kherson city the chairs were screwed into the floor, ankles of those electrocuted taped to the chair legs. \nWho, where and how the Russians did this as described by the men sitting in those chairs.\nFull investigation\u201d— Paraic O'Brien (@Paraic O'Brien) 1668598567
Two torture chambers were discovered after Ukraine’s military liberated the city of Kherson last week, reports Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Dozens of people were subjected to torture,” Lubinets said, adding that there are confirmed cases of people dying after being tortured.
“I haven’t seen such a scale of [human rights violations] before. And I personally visited all [Russian] torture chambers in different Ukrainian regions, but this is terrifying” Lubinets said. “It seems that [the Russian military] get some satisfaction from it when they kill and torture our citizens.”
The Commissioner said he spoke with a man who was tortured over the course of 45 days in the chamber, where he saw dozens of other people also being tortured. “They were electrocuted, beaten with metal pipes, their bones were broken, and all this happened on camera, that is, the Russians filmed it all," Lubinets said.
He also emphasized that the humanitarian situation in the Kherson region remains extremely difficult, calling for aid to be sent — food, means of restoring the power grid etc. "Without it, it is simply impossible to restore a more or less normal life here," Lubinets said.
Nine Dead In Strike On Zaporizhzhia, As UN Nuclear Watchdog Issues New Ultimatum
Rubble removed from site of rocket attack in Zaporizhzhia
Russian shelling on residential buildings in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region have killed nine people, according to the Ukrainian presidential office.
The deadly strike comes as the UN nuclear watchdog (the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA), passed its third resolution since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine to end all actions at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, including the one in Zaporizhzhia.
Investigation Finds Sabotage Evidence On Nord Stream Pipelines
Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines. This confirms that sabotage had taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday.
Both Swedish and Danish are investigating four holes in the pipelines that link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. "Analysis that has now been carried out shows traces of explosives on several of the objects that were recovered," the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement.
Brittney Griner Transferred To Penal Colony To Serve Nine-Year Sentence
American basketball star Brittney Griner, detained in Russia, has been transferred to a penal colony in the western region of Mordovia, according to her lawyers. This ends days of speculation over her whereabouts.
“We can confirm that Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We visited her early this week,’ her lawyers said on Thursday. “Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment. Considering that this is a very challenging period for her, there will be no further comments from us.”
While the conditions vary in different Russian penal colonies, there are reports of political prisoners being placed in harsh conditions. Prisoners can be subjected to “solitary confinement or punitive stays in psychiatric units,” the State Department’s human rights report says.