MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Group of 20 leading economies on Wednesday that it was necessary to think about how to stop “the tragedy” of the war in Ukraine, and said Moscow had never refused to participate in peace talks with Kyiv.
Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine in February 2022 triggered Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War Two and the gravest confrontation between Russia and the West since the depths of the Cold War.
Addressing G20 leaders for the first time since the start of the war, the Kremlin chief said some leaders had said in their speeches that they were shocked by the ongoing “aggression” of Russia in Ukraine.
“Yes, of course, military actions are always a tragedy,” Putin told the virtual G20 meeting called by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the current chair.
“And of course, we should think about how to stop this tragedy,” Putin said. “By the way, Russia has never refused peace talks with Ukraine.”
A senior Russian official said on Tuesday that Moscow could not co-exist with the current government in Kyiv and that it would continue what it calls its special military operation to “demilitarise” Ukraine.
Ukraine has vowed to fight until the last Russian soldier has left its territory, and its Western allies have said they will continue to support Kyiv.
Along with Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory. Putin says that territory is now part of Russia.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive has failed to make any significant gains this year against well-dug in Russian forces.
Putin skipped previous G20 summits in New Delhi and Nusa Dua, Indonesia, sending Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead.
The Russian leader addressed the 2021 and 2020 summits from Moscow. He last attended a G20 gathering in person in Osaka, Japan, in 2019.