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Ukraine’s leaders have only themselves to blame – Putin

Ukraine’s much-touted counteroffensive has now “completely failed” and its very statehood could soon suffer an irreparable blow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the ‘Small Motherland – the Strength of Russia’ forum in Moscow on Tuesday.

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Putin noted that the head of Ukraine’s negotiation team, which participated in peace talks with Russia in the early months of the conflict, had recently admitted that Kiev was at one point ready to reach an agreement with Moscow. However, after a visit by then-British prime minister Boris Johnson, the Ukrainian authorities were convinced to stop pursuing a deal with Russia and continue fighting.

“Are they not idiots?” Putin asked, adding that if Ukraine had simply ignored Johnson, then the fighting could be long over by now. “This just proves yet again that they are not independent people,” the Russian leader said.

READ MORE: Ukrainian rocket attack on Russia injures three

Putin proceeded to suggest that Kiev’s latest strikes on Russian civilians were an attempt to distract its own people and its Western sponsors from the “complete and absolute failure of their so-called counteroffensive,” which had been intended to push Russian forces back to Ukraine’s 1991 borders.

The president said Kiev’s offensive had not only catastrophically failed, but all the initiative on the battlefield had also ended up with the Russian forces.

“If things carry on this way, Ukrainian statehood could be dealt an irreparable and very serious blow,” Putin warned, arguing that the leadership in Kiev is fully responsible for the situation, which is a direct consequence of their policies and decisions.

Putin’s statement comes as Kiev’s Western backers are reportedly growing increasingly concerned that it cannot inflict a military defeat on Russia, and have been nudging Ukraine to seek a diplomatic solution.

According to Russian estimates, around 400,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded during the conflict, including 125,000 in the course of Kiev’s counteroffensive between early June and late November.

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