Russia has rejected a Ukrainian peace proposal saying Kyiv needs to acknowledge its new territorial ‘realities’.
Volodymyr Zelensky had submitted the terms to the Kremlin which would secure the pullout of Russian troops from his country.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Ukraine needs to accept Russia’s annexation of four regions, which are now ‘new subjects’ of Moscow.
Putin fraudulently claimed the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in September but most countries of the United Nations have condemned the move as illegal.
Seized Russian tanks are displayed at Saint Michael’s Square in Kyiv as Russia continues to reject Ukraine’s peace proposals
In November, Moscow pulled out of the main city of Kherson but continues to control most of the wider Kherson region.
Peskov was responding to a request by Zelensky to G7 leaders on Monday for more military equipment, support for financial and energy stability, and backing for a peace solution that would start with Russia withdrawing troops from Ukraine, beginning this Christmas.
‘These are three steps towards a continuation of hostilities,’ Peskov said.
‘The Ukrainian side needs to take into account the realities that have developed during this time,’ he added when asked about the proposed Russian troop withdrawal.
‘And these realities indicate that new subjects have appeared in the Russian Federation.
Volodymyr Zelensky had submitted the terms to the Kremlin which would secure the pullout of Russian troops from his country
Putin (pictured yesterday with Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin) fraudulently claimed the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in September
‘They appeared as a result of referendums that took place in these territories. Without taking these new realities into account, no kind of progress is possible.’
There could be ‘no question’ of Russia starting to pull out its troops by the end of the year, he said.
Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed as illegal shams the ‘referendums’ that Peskov referred to in four regions of south and eastern Ukraine that Russia partly occupies, saying they were conducted at gunpoint.
Since the annexations, Russia has lost significant ground in the south and east of Ukraine and has spoken more frequently of its willingness to hold peace talks.
But it says it does not see Ukraine and the West, which is supplying Kyiv with weapons, as ready to negotiate.
A general view of the destroyed buildings after the explosion in the center of Kherson yesterday
Moscow has rejected charges that its talk of diplomacy is an attempt to buy time to allow its depleted forces to regroup after nearly 10 months of war and a series of defeats and retreats.
Ukraine says Russia must halt its attacks and withdraw from all territory it has occupied, and Zelensky urged G7 leaders on Monday to back his idea of convening a special Global Peace Summit.
The summit would be focused on the implementation of Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan that insists on, among other things, Russia’s withdrawal of all its troops from Ukraine and no territorial concessions on Kyiv’s part.
‘No matter what the aggressor intends to do, when the world is truly united, it is then the world, not the aggressor that determines how events develop,’ Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Monday.
Meanwhile on the ground today, Russia-installed authorities accused pro-Kyiv forces of using explosives to damage a bridge into Melitopol, a strategic city in the Moscow-occupied part of Ukraine’s southern region of Zaporizhzhia.
A bridge spanning a canal near to the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol has been destroyed in what is widely though to be a sabotage attack orchestrated by Kyiv
A crack is visible in the badly-bent roadway which was a vital route for military supplies to be taken from Russia to troops on the frontlines in the south of Ukraine
The attack comes after Ukrainian troops struck Melitopol at the weekend, opening a new front in Kyiv’s fight to win back land in the south of the Western-backed country.
Melitopol, an important transport centre, is key to liberating the south of Ukraine.
‘The bridge in the village of Konstantinovka in the eastern suburbs of Melitopol was damaged by terrorists,’ Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-installed regional official, said on messaging app Telegram.
He said the attack was carried out with the help of ‘explosives’.
Rogov did not specify the extent of the damage, but images posted on his social media showed that a middle section of the bridge had collapsed.
Rogov said the bridge was used to supply the Moscow-controlled parts of the region of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, territories which form a land corridor linking Russia and Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia has accused pro-Kyiv forces of a number of sabotage attacks, including a blast that damaged a bridge linking Crimea to mainland Russia in October.
On Saturday evening, Ukraine attacked Melitopol using US-supplied HIMARS long-range rocket launchers, pro-Russian officials said.