Russian President Vladimir Putin told the visiting UN chief on Tuesday that he still had hope for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine.
“Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track. We are negotiating, we do not reject (talks),” Putin told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was visiting Moscow, in televised remarks.
Sitting across from Guterres at a long table at the Kremlin, Putin said efforts at talks with Ukraine had been derailed by claims of atrocities committed by Russian forces in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv.
“There was a provocation in the village of Bucha, which the Russian army had nothing to do with,” Putin said. “We know who prepared this provocation, by what means, and what kind of people worked on it.”
Putin told Guterres he was “aware of your concerns about Russia’s military operation” in Ukraine and ready to discuss it, but blamed the turmoil in the country on an “anti-state coup” that overturned a pro-Russian president in 2014.
Guterres reiterated his call from an earlier meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for Moscow and Kyiv to work together with the UN to set up aid and evacuation corridors to help civilians in Ukraine.