The Kremlin has warned that US weapons supplies to Ukraine may hurt any prospects of peace after initial talks between the two warring sides failed to pave the way for a meeting of Russian and Ukrainian presidents.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that the decision by the White House to keep providing Ukraine with weapons and military assistance would probably damage chances of successful peace talks.
“Pumping weapons into Ukraine will not contribute to the success of Russian-Ukrainian talks. Of course this will most likely have a negative effect,” he said at a news conference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” on February 24 to demilitarize the Donbass region, largely populated by ethnic Russians, in eastern Ukraine.
The United States and its European allies have labeled the military operation as “Putin’s land grab,” imposing unprecedented sanctions on Moscow, which stresses that it will halt the operation instantly if Kiev meets Russia’s list of demands, including never applying to join NATO.
Kremlin baffled by sanctions on Putin’s daughters
Peskov also said the Kremlin was bewildered by Washington’s decision to impose sanctions against Putin’s adult daughters, denouncing the measure as part of a broader Western frenzy against Russia.
A day earlier, fresh US sanctions against Russia hit Russian banks and elites, including Putin’s daughters Katerina and Maria, who American officials claim are hiding their father’s wealth.
“Of course we consider these sanctions in themselves to be the extension of an absolutely rabid position on the imposition of restrictions,” Peskov told reporters. “In any case, the ongoing line on imposing restrictions against family members speaks for itself.”
Peskov also said he wondered why Putin’s daughters would be targeted. “This is something that is difficult to understand and explain. Unfortunately, we have to deal with such opponents.”
ICRC transports over 1,000 civilians to Zaporizhzhia
With the conflict raging for the 44th day, a team of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday it led a convoy of buses and private vehicles carrying more than 1,000 Ukrainians to Zaporizhzhia, a city in southeastern Ukraine.
“This convoy’s arrival to Zaporizhzhia is a huge relief for hundreds of people who have suffered immensely and are now in a safer location. It’s clear, though, that thousands more civilians trapped inside Mariupol need safe passage out and aid to come in. As a neutral intermediary, we’re ready to respond to this humanitarian imperative once concrete agreements and security conditions allow it,” said Pascal Hundt, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Ukraine.
The convoy had left Berdiansk on Tuesday and reached Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.
The ICRC said its team had tried over the course of five days and four nights to reach as close as 20 kilometers away from besieged Mariupol, but security conditions on the ground prevented the team from entering the city.