Putin hasn’t ‘taken his foot off the gas’ in Ukraine despite China peace talks, White House says

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FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after speaking to the media during a signing ceremony following their talks at The Grand Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. China’s leader Xi just concluded his three-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a warm affair in which the two men praised each other and spoke of a profound friendship. It’s a high in a complicated, centuries-long relationship in which the two countries have been allies and enemies.(Mikhail Tereshchenko, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File) Mikhail Tereshchenko/AP

Putin hasn’t ‘taken his foot off the gas’ in Ukraine despite China peace talks, White House says

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The White House on Wednesday condemned peace talks between China and Russia, saying Vladimir Putin “hasn’t taken his foot off the gas.”

Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow this week to discuss what China bills as a peace plan for the war in Ukraine. Yet reports surfaced from Kyiv the next day that cruise missile strikes had killed civilians.

PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA SUPPORTS ‘MANY OF THE PROVISIONS’ IN CHINA’S UKRAINE PEACE PLAN

“Mr. Putin hasn’t really taken his foot off the gas since he invaded a year ago,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “He just continues to find new, brutal, violent ways to kill Ukrainians and to try to destroy Ukrainian cities. Basically, [he wants to] wipe Ukraine off the map as an independent, sovereign nation.”

Chinese officials released a 12-point peace plan last month that called for, among other things, a ceasefire that would freeze the current battlefield positions in place, effectively solidifying Russia‘s current gains on the battlefield permanently, hence Ukraine’s opposition to it. A ceasefire, U.S. officials have said, would also give Russia a chance to refit, resupply, and redeploy troops for a future offensive.

“We believe that many of the provisions of the peace plan put forward by China are consonant with Russian approaches and can be taken as the basis for a peaceful settlement when they are ready for that in the West and in Kyiv. However, so far we see no such readiness from their side,” Putin said, according to Reuters.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Russian leaders spoke “positively of China’s objective and impartial position,” in a statement. “The two sides oppose the practice by any country or group of countries to seek advantages in the military, political and other areas to the detriment of the legitimate security interests of other countries.”

However, the reported missile strikes severely undermine any talk of peace, Kirby said.

“I find it pretty dang ironic,” a visibly irate Kirby added. “Yesterday, I was up here reading quotes that these two leaders put out about sovereignty and the U.N. charter and peaceful solutions … the very next day, Putin is launching drones and cruise missiles.”

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Those missiles killed civilians, he said, including two children.

“It’s hard for me to say whether he’s more emboldened or not, but he certainly hasn’t changed tack,” Kirby said, “in the wake of all that lofty rhetoric about peace and the cessation of hostilities.”

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