Ukraine soldiers enjoy Christmas meal as Putin claims Russia is ‘ready to negotiate’


Russia is ready to negotiate over the war in Ukraine but Kyiv and allies have refused to engage in talks, Vladimir Putin said on Sunday in a new interview.

“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” the Russian president told Rossiya 1 state television.

However, he accused Ukraine and the West of trying to pull “historical Russia” apart, signalling he still wants control of Russian-speaking territories invaded by his forces – a non-starter for any serious peace negotiations.

It came as air raid sirens wailed in Kyiv and across Ukraine on Sunday morning, where many were celebrating Christmas – part of an increasing trend, even among Orthodox Ukrainians, to observe on December 25 instead of January 7.

Ukraine’s military showed pictures of soldiers having a Christmas meal on the front lines.

In October, the leadership of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is not aligned with the Russian church, agreed to allow faithful to celebrate on December 25. For some Ukrainians, changing date to align with western Christianity represents a shift from Russia, its culture, and religion.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most deadly conflict in Europe since World War Two and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Kremlin says it will fight until all its aims are achieved while Kyiv says it will not rest until every Russian soldier is ejected from all of its territory, including Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014.

Ukrainian service members have Christmas dinner at an unknown location in Ukraine

(Ukraine military handout via REUTERS)

CIA director William Burns said in an interview this month that while most conflicts end in negotiation, the CIA’s assessment was that Russia was not yet serious about a real negotiation to end the war.

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Putin needed to return to reality and acknowledge that it was Russia which did not want any negotiations.

“Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens,” said Mykhailo Podolyak. “Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility.”

Putin said Russia was acting in the “right direction” in Ukraine because the West, led by the United States, was trying to cleave Russia apart. Washington denies it is plotting Russia’s collapse.

“I believe that we are acting in the right direction, we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens,” Putin said.

Ukrainians attend a Christmas mass at an Orthodox Church in Bobrytsia, near Kyiv, on Sunday


Asked if the geopolitical conflict with the West was approaching a dangerous level, Putin said: “I don’t think it’s so dangerous.”

Putin said the West had begun the conflict by toppling a pro-Russian Ukrainian president in the Maidan Revolution protests of 2014.

Soon after that revolution, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and Russian-backed separatist forces began fighting Ukraine’s armed forces in eastern Ukraine.

“Actually, the fundamental thing here is the policy of our geopolitical opponents which is aimed at pulling apart Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.

Putin casts what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine as a watershed moment when Moscow finally stood up to a Western bloc he says has been seeking to destroy Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Russian military cadets at the funeral in St Petersburg of Dmitry Menshikov, a mercenary for Wagner Group killed in Ukraine


Ukraine and the West say Putin has no justification for what they cast as an imperial-style war of occupation which has caused suffering and death across Ukraine.

Putin described Russia as a “unique country” and said the vast majority of its people were united in wanting to defend it.

“As for the main part – the 99.9% of our citizens, our people who are ready to give everything for the interests of the Motherland – there is nothing unusual for me here,” Putin said.

“This just once again convinces me that Russia is a unique country and that we have an exceptional people. This has been confirmed throughout the history of Russia’s existence.”

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

Ukraine War 24

Ukraine War 24

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