Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Russia not interested in stopping Ukraine war: Kremlin spokesman

Mr Peskov said there are currently no indications of the possibility of a peaceful solution to the conflict.

• May 24, 2023
Dmitry Peskov
Dmitry Peskov

The Kremlin is not interested in halting the conflict with Ukraine, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, while officials in the Russian border region of Belgorod continue to report attacks.

Russia will continue its “special military operation” until the end, until it has asserted its interests and achieved its goals – either in the course of the fighting or through “other available means,” Mr Peskov was quoted as saying on Wednesday by state news agency TASS, using the preferred term by Moscow to describe the war against the neighbouring country it launched 15 months ago.

Mr Peskov said there are currently no indications of the possibility of a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Negotiations with Kiev are impossible because the Ukrainian leadership itself has “forbidden negotiations of any kind with Russia,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made the withdrawal of Russian troops from occupied Ukrainian territories a precondition for peace talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, spoke of “increasing instability in the world” in light of the war he ordered last year, in a video message addressing a security conference in Moscow.

Mr Putin held the West responsible for the development, saying Western powers were trying to maintain global dominance at the expense of other countries.

The Kremlin leader once again accused the Western states, which are helping Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion by supplying weapons, of “neo-colonialism.”

Meanwhile, the Russian region of Belgorod on the border with Ukraine has been attacked with a “large number” of drones, according to authorities.

Cars, residential buildings and administrative buildings were damaged in the city of Belgorod itself and in other places in the region, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Wednesday.

Most of the drones had been destroyed by anti-aircraft fire, he added.

The western Russian border region has been rocked by attacks for months. Moscow holds Ukrainian saboteurs responsible, saying they have been attacking the area with grenade launchers and artillery.

Dozens of “representatives of Ukrainian military units” had been fighting in the area since Monday, according to Russian reports.

On Tuesday, Russian authorities lifted the temporary state of alert and declared the “anti-terrorist operation” over, with the Russian Defence Ministry saying it had “eliminated” more than 70 Ukrainian terrorists.

Two volunteer corps of Russian citizens fighting for the Ukrainian side in the war have claimed responsibility for Monday’s attacks, while Kiev has denied any involvement.

Mr Gladkov said there were no new injuries following the latest attacks, but nine people wounded in Monday’s strikes were still being treated in hospital.

He earlier also spoke of one dead.

According to the New York Times, at least three armoured U.S. military vehicles were apparently used in the attack on Belgorod.

Two of these vehicles, known as “MRAP” (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected), were confiscated by the Russians, the newspaper reported on Tuesday after analysing photos and videos published on Telegram and elsewhere.

It is unclear how the pro-Ukrainian attackers came into possession of these vehicles and how they ended up in Russian hands after the attack on Monday.

According to the NYT, the U.S. had provided the Ukrainian military with several hundred of these vehicles.

According to video footage, they have been used on various fronts in Ukraine so far.

Meanwhile, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that the number of Russian deserters in the war against Ukraine has recently increased significantly.

Between January and May, Russian military courts dealt with a total of 1,053 cases of desertion, the MoD announced on Wednesday on Twitter, citing research by independent Russian journalists.

That was more than in the whole of 2022, it said, adding that court records indicated that most deserters were given suspended sentences so they could be deployed again in the war.

“Russia’s military has struggled to enforce discipline in its ranks throughout its operations in Ukraine, but its issues have highly likely worsened following the forced mobilisation of reservists since October 2022,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update on the Ukraine war.

The head of Russian private Wagner Group of mercenary forces, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has reiterated his criticism of the warfare against Ukraine and warned of defeat.

“We have to prepare for a very difficult war,” he told pro-Kremlin political expert Konstantin Dolgov, who published a video of the interview with Prigozhin on Tuesday night.

In order for Russia not to lose, it must declare a state of war and switch the economy to the production of munitions, Mr Prigozhin said.

“We should initiate new mobilisations,” the confidant of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin said. Everyone should work only for war, he added. 


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