Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer walked away from his meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin convinced that sanctions aren’t weakening the Kremlin’s determination to resolve the Donbass crisis before ending the military offensive in Ukraine.
“He clearly confirmed that the sanctions are tough for Russia but the situation in Donbass, as he said, must be, so to say, resolved, despite the sanctions – even if they are quite tangible,” Nehammer told reporters following the meeting at Putin’s residence outside Moscow, as cited by Tass.
The talks marked Putin’s first in-person meeting with an EU leader since the Russian attack on Ukraine began in February. While Nehammer had said he hoped to “build bridges” by traveling to Moscow, he told reporters afterward that “I generally have no optimistic impression that I can report to you from this conversation with President Putin.”
After pulling back its forces from around Kiev, Russia is preparing an offensive in eastern Ukraine “on a massive scale,” Nehammer claimed. Putin sees the war as necessary to defend Russian national security and mistrusts an international community that he considers “one-sided,” the chancellor said.