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Austria’s leader says his face-to-face meeting with Putin was ‘not a friendly visit’

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Berlin
CNN
 — 

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer mentioned he raised alleged Russian atrocities in Ukraine throughout a “robust” and unfriendly assembly Monday with Vladimir Putin – the primary Western sit-down with the Russian President since he launched his invasion in February.

“This isn’t a pleasant go to. I’ve simply come from Ukraine and have seen with my very own eyes the immeasurable struggling attributable to the Russian struggle of aggression,” Nehammer was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his workplace after the assembly outdoors Moscow.

Nehammer is the primary European chief to fulfill Putin face-to-face since his invasion of Ukraine. His go to divided opinion amongst EU leaders, with some expressing skepticism about partaking with the Russian chief.

The pair spoke for about 75 minutes at Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo residence close to Moscow, Nehammer’s spokesperson mentioned, in talks the Austrian chief described as “very direct, open and hard.”

Earlier than visiting Russia, Nehammer met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and visited the city of Bucha, the place our bodies of unarmed civilians had been found strewn across public streets after a month of Russian occupation.

”I addressed the intense struggle crimes in Bucha and different locations and emphasised that every one these accountable for them should be held accountable,” Nehammer mentioned, in response to the assertion. “I additionally informed President Putin in no unsure phrases that sanctions towards Russia will stay in place and can proceed to be tightened so long as persons are dying in Ukraine.”

The Austrian chief mentioned Putin had blamed the Ukrainians for “being accountable for the crimes in Bucha.” Video footage, nevertheless, exhibits Russian forces gunning down a civilian there.

Austria is militarily impartial however its authorities has joined its neighbors in condemning Putin’s invasion.

The Chancellor mentioned he raised the problem of evacuation corridors with Putin, after repeated cases wherein tried evacuations round Ukraine have been scuppered by Russian assaults. Ukrainian officers mentioned a Russian strike on Kramatorsk train station on Friday killed dozens of individuals, together with a number of kids.

“I additionally made it clear to the Russian President that there’s an pressing want for humanitarian corridors to deliver consuming water and meals to the besieged cities and to deliver out girls, kids and the wounded,” Nehammer mentioned in his assertion.

Nehammer cited “a way of accountability to go away no stone unturned” as a cause for looking for the assembly with Putin, saying: “For me, there isn’t any different to looking for direct talks with Russia as properly, regardless of all of the very nice variations.”

Throughout a briefing in Moscow following the assembly, Nehammer mentioned he was not “notably optimistic,” including that “the offensive (in Ukraine) is being ready with dedication.”

Whereas he didn’t count on Putin to vary his view, Nehammer mentioned it was essential to confront him “with the info.”

“What’s essential is a private assembly, phoning is one factor, however you really want to look one another within the eye, you must discuss concerning the cruelty of struggle,” Nehammer mentioned.

“After all, whenever you discuss to him for the primary, second, third time, we will’t count on him to vary his view … I didn’t count on that. However you will need to confront President Vladimir Putin. Day-after-day is a day too lengthy within the struggle, each … dying is one too many.”

Nehammer famous that “it was additionally clear and recognizable that Russian president nonetheless has confidence” within the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey.

Forward of the talks on Monday, Lithuania’s Overseas Minister solid doubt on their effectiveness, saying of the Russian chief: “I personally haven’t any cause to consider that he’s talkable.”

Czech Minister of Overseas Affairs Jan Lipavsky additionally urged Nehammer to be cautious. “Don’t be naive. Putin is a perpetrator of this horrendous struggle crime and people atrocities, and he must be punished for that,” he mentioned.

Nehammer’s assertion mentioned the European Union was “extra united than ever on this situation.”

Ukraine’s overseas minister mentioned on Sunday it might be “extraordinarily tough” to even take into consideration negotiations with Russia following the atrocities dedicated within the city of Bucha and on the practice station in Kramatorsk.

Putin appointed a new general to supervise his invasion over the weekend, and the main focus of Russia’s forces has turned in the direction of japanese Ukraine after their failure to grab the capital, Kyiv, and different territories within the heart of the nation.