Putin says he is ‘ready to go down the negotiations track’ with the West, after weeks of mounting tensions
Russian strongman insisted he ‘of course’ doesn’t want war despite massing troops on Ukraine’s border
But he repeated claim that ‘genocide’ is underway in breakaway regions of Ukraine, and insisted their future must be part of security talks – underlining how far apart the two sides still are
He spoke hours after Moscow announced some troops will be withdrawn from frontlines to their home bases
‘Withdrawal’ greeted with optimism and skepticism, amid warnings Russia could still invade at short notice
Vladimir Putin played magnanimous peacemaker today insisting that he ‘of course’ doesn’t want war in Ukraine hours after announcing a theatrical ‘withdrawal’ of some of his forces while massing tens of thousands of troops along the border The strongman, speaking at the Kremlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said he is ‘ready to go down the negotiations track’ and engage over issues such as arms control, transparency around military drills, and other measures aimed at reducing sky-high tensions between East and West. Russia’s apparent withdrawal is being treated with extreme scepticism in the West, where intelligence agencies suspect is could be part of a ruse to launch a smaller military operation in the regions of Eastern Ukraine where Russian separatists are fighting.