Kremlin hints Russia is open to peace deal after embarrassing defeats

Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin slams Putin

Kremlin mouthpiece Maria Zakharova has hinted that Vladimir Putin may be looking for an off-ramp almost 18 months after his invasion of Ukraine – suggesting various countries have proposed “ideas which may work”.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was speaking to state-run news agency Tass on the sidelines of the St Peterburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Asked whether there were “viable ideas” being put forward, the close Putin ally said: “Of course there are.”

“I reiterate that we are thankful to every country, every state or every public figure – because many initiatives were personally proposed by prominent figures, internationalists.

“We are grateful to everyone, who speaks about peace, who speaks about peaceful settlement and, who wants to be useful regarding this issue.

“There are interesting ideas, which may work. There are ideas that are in sync with our approaches, and, for instance, it includes the Chinese initiative.”

Zakharova pointed the finger at Ukraine’s President, claiming Kyiv had “banned itself” from holding any talks with Russia.

She continued: “All of it was blocked by Zelensky, because this concept was laid out by Washington.

“Washington pursues the concept of ‘kill as many Russians as possible.’

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“This concept was voiced by prominent representatives of the US political establishment including ex-US President George Bush Jr and Senator Lindsey Graham.”

Accusing the US of seeking world domination, she added: “They used to speak about it and documented it as dismemberment. But now, they are somehow trying to publicly rewind it back – I mean previously voiced statements and concepts of US diplomats – as they now say that this is not dismemberment of Russia, but some kind of punishment for Russia.

“Although it may seem not to be important, they have shaped it up with a precise formulation.

“This is why this issue is not about the essence of the proposed initiatives, but about the inability of Ukraine to move towards the peace because of the block set by political scientists from Washington.”

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In an apparent attempt to involve Beijing as well as splitting the Western coalition, Zakharova claimed Russia was “not the final aim at all for Washington in this game”.

She explained: “Their aim is definitely China, and they Washington go insane over their Chinese rate of their economic growth, with their technological development, with their independent course, with their capabilities, with their determination, with their inked partnership with other countries.

“They Washington also humiliate and cause problems for the European Union as much as they can while considering them [EU] as reliable partners, allies and dear friends.”

Zakharova was speaking days after Ukraine launched its eagerly awaited counter-offensive, with Russia losing territory and struggling to make headway and a simmering dispute between Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

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