Russia prepping for massive scale operation in east Ukraine: Austrian Chancellor | World News - Hindustan Times
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Russia prepping for massive scale operation in east Ukraine: Austrian Chancellor after meeting Putin

Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Aryan Prakash, New Delhi
Apr 11, 2022 11:25 PM IST

Karl Nehammer is the first European leader to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia launched a full-blown military attack on its former Soviet neighbour Ukraine on February 24.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Monday that his in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin did not leave him “optimistic” about the war in Ukraine. Talking to reporters at a press conference after the meeting, Nehammer added that Russia is “evidently” preparing the offensive in eastern Ukraine on a “massive scale”.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia April 11, 2022. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia April 11, 2022. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

“I generally have no optimistic impression that I can report to you from this conversation with President Putin,” the Austrian chancellor said.

Also Read | Won't halt military operation in Ukraine for peace talks: Russian FM Lavrov

Nehammer is the first European leader to meet Putin since Russia launched a full-blown military attack on its former Soviet neighbour Ukraine on February 24. The Russian leader has spoken with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron over the phone on several occasions.

According to a statement, Nehammer said that his primary message to Putin during a “very direct, open and tough” talk was to end the war. He also told the Russian president that those responsible for war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha would also be “held to account”.

Earlier this month, at least 20 bodies in civilian robes were found in Bucha - located northwest of Kyiv, along with hundreds of mass graves. Ukraine claimed that retreating Russian troops committed war crimes by executing civilians. However, Russia has categorically denied every accusation, calling them a “fake propaganda” by the Ukrainian special forces.

Nehammer also emphasised on the need to open humanitarian corridors so that civilians of the strife-torn Ukraine can get access to basic amenities such as food and water, the statement added.

Also Read | ‘War wouldn’t have happened': Ukraine on 'strategic mistake' by Germany, France

The Austrian chancellor called his trip to Moscow a “duty” to exhaust every possibility to end the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Nehammer's meeting with Putin came only two days after he traveled to Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Austria, being a member of the European Union (EU), backed the bloc's recent fifth wave of sanctions against Russia that imposed a ban on Russian coal imports and also barred its ships from all European ports. Austria along with Germany and Italy have been resistant in passing sanctions against Russian energy supplies since they are heavily dependent on them.

During his talks with Zelenskyy, Nehammer said the latest sanctions by the EU won't be the “last” by them, but also defended his country's choice to depend on Russian supplies.

(With inputs from agencies)

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