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Putin turns down Biden talks and defends Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy grid

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an event via video on Wednesday. The Kremlin is downplaying the prospect of Ukraine peace talks after President Biden said he would speak to Putin if "he's looking for a way to end the war."
Mikhail Metzel
/
Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an event via video on Wednesday. The Kremlin is downplaying the prospect of Ukraine peace talks after President Biden said he would speak to Putin if "he's looking for a way to end the war."

MOSCOW — The Kremlin dismissed the idea of talks with President Biden to end the war in Ukraine on Friday, and defended its repeated attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as "inevitable."

On Thursday, Biden said he would be willing to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin "if in fact there is an interest in him deciding that he's looking for a way to end the war."

Asked about those comments at the White House, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin remains open to negotiations, so long as they help secure Russia's "national interests."

But Peskov noted Biden's demand that Putin "pull out of Ukraine" made talks unlikely.

"The U.S. still doesn't recognize new territories of the Russian Federation," Peskov said, in a reference to four regions of Ukraine the Kremlin illegally annexed to international condemnation in September. "That complicates the search for grounds on which to hold mutual discussion."

The rejection of talks with Washington came as Putin provided a forceful defense of his actions in Ukraine in a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

According to a Kremlin readout of the call, Putin said the West is pursuing "destructive" policies in Ukraine through its financial and military support, which "leads to the fact that Kyiv has dismissed the idea of any negotiations."

Putin defended weeks of attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure as a logical response to Ukrainian attacks on Russia — including a key bridge linking the Russian mainland to the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

The Russian strikes in Ukraine left millions of Ukrainians without power, heat and running water as the cold weather was setting in. Western nations joined Kyiv in accusing Moscow of trying to "weaponize winter" — a charge Putin has rejected.

"It was noted that the Russian Armed Forces had long refrained from precision missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine," said the Kremlin readout of Putin's call with the German chancellor.

"But now such measures have become a forced and inevitable response to Kyiv's provocative attacks on Russia's civilian infrastructure," it said.

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