German Chancellor says there is no indication Putin has changed his stance on Ukraine as UN chief says prospects for peace are “minimal”.
Vladimir Putin appears to believe he made no mistake in launching an invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday after a 90-minute phone call with the Russian president.
“Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that the impression has developed that it was a mistake to start this war,” Scholz told reporters a day after his exchange with Putin.
“And there is no indication that new attitudes are emerging,” added the German leader during a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart, Irakli Garibashvili.
During Tuesday’s call with the Russian leader, Scholz urged Putin to seek a diplomatic solution “based on a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Russian forces and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”.
The exit of Russian troops from Ukraine was the only way for “peace to have a chance in the region”, Scholz said on Wednesday.
“Minimal” prospects for peace
While Putin’s positions do not appear to have changed, the German Chancellor said it was necessary to stay in conversation with the Russian leader.
“It’s fair to talk to each other and say what there is to say about it,” Scholz said.
In another phone call with Putin on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the pair discussed efforts to overcome the “hurdles” that remain tied to Russian food and food exports. fertilizer.
But the prospects for peace in Ukraine are currently “minimal”, the UN chief lamented after the call, warning that it would be “naive” to believe that there has been enough progress towards a quick end to the war.
“I have the feeling that we are still far from peace. I would be lying if I said it could happen soon,” Guterres told a news conference.
“I have no illusions; at present, the chances of a peace agreement are slim,” he added, noting that even a ceasefire is “not in sight.”
Despite his grim record of the war that has raged since Russia invaded his neighbor in late February, António Guterres stressed that he was maintaining contact with both sides and expressed hope that “one day there will be possible to move to a higher level of discussion”.
In the meantime, talks continue on an export deal “and its extension and eventual expansion”.
A two-part deal – allowing both the flow of war-stymied Ukrainian grain exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports – was brokered by the UN and Turkey in July and is expected to last 120 days.
Guterres said there were talks about the possibility of Russian ammonia exports through the Black Sea.
Ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizers, is produced by combining nitrogen from the air with hydrogen derived from natural gas.
Several European fertilizer manufacturers have stopped producing ammonia due to soaring gas prices.
António Guterres has warned that the fertilizer crisis has reached a “dramatic” level, repeating his fears of a global food shortage next year.
He said he also spoke with Putin about prisoners of war and the state of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.