Putin says Russia ready to fight until the 'last Ukrainian is left standing,' reversing initial claims to want to help them
- Vladimir Putin told lawmakers that
Russiawas prepared to fight in Ukraineuntil the end.
- The claims contrast starkly with earlier arguments that he wanted to save Ukraine from its leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that his invasion of Ukraine could continue until the "last Ukrainian is left standing," Reuters reported.
During a speech to parliamentary leaders, Putin said Russia was just getting started with the war in Ukraine, more than four months after he ordered an invasion into the neighboring country.
"Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say? Let them try," Putin said, according to Reuters.
"We have continuously heard that the West is ready to fight with us until the last Ukrainian is left standing. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. However, it seems like everything is going towards this," he added.
Putin's reference to fighting until no Ukrainians are left is a sharp reversal from his position at the start of the invasion that his intention was to help the Ukrainian people, particularly in its east, by removing its government. Moscow routinely refer to its seizure of territory as "liberation."
(Putin made baseless claims of genocide in support of that argument, and ignored the fact that Ukraine's government was chosen by its people in 2019.)
Putin's rationale for the war has shifted numerous times. In early June Putin said in public that Russia was attacking Ukraine to take its land, which he had said before was not the case.
But while boasting that Russia was prepared to fight until the end, Putin also made reference to the possibility of negotiations with Ukraine.
"We are not refusing peace negotiations. But those who do refuse should know that the further [the conflict continues], the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us," he said, per Reuters.
Peace talks between the two countries have been on pause as Russia continues its attack on the eastern Donbas region.
Ukrainian officials have said there is no point negotiating with Russia while it continues to kill Ukrainians and destroy Ukrainian city's.
Its chief negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Twitter this week that conditions to resume talks with the Kremlin would include: "Ceasefire. Z-troops withdrawal. Returning of kidnapped citizens. Extradition of war criminals. Reparations mechanism. Ukraine's sovereign rights recognition."
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