This article was originally published by Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.
The past two days saw reports of “progress made” in ongoing Ukraine-Russia ceasefire talks, but a Kremlin spokesman shot that down as “wrong” while still affirming that discussions are continuing Thursday.
Wednesday afternoon saw for the first time President Biden when asked by a reporter call Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”. Peskov weighed in on the provocative words, saying this characterization was “unforgivable”. And according to Bloomberg:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a Financial Times report of substantial progress in talks with Ukraine was “wrong” but that the discussions will continue on Thursday. He blamed Kyiv for dragging its feet on negotiations, saying Ukraine’s government was “in no rush.” Ukraine dismissed the Financial Times report on Wednesday, saying significant issues remained.
“I don’t know if they are already underway but they are expected [to take place] on various tracks,” Peskov said of Thursday talks. He said contacts are expected to be held today,” according to state media.
“Our delegation, led by [Presidential Aide Vladimir] Medinsky, maintains contact with experts and government agencies, it’s ready to work around the clock, it has made its willingness clear. Unfortunately, we don’t see similar enthusiasm from the Ukrainian side,” the spokesman added. Zelensky himself acknowledged negotiations as “fairly difficult” while the Kremlin said it’s ready to reach peace but “on our terms” – meaning it’s still seeking a military solution on the ground in Ukraine.
Further, Zelensky said the following in a US media interview:
Zelensky says Russia has crossed “all the red lines”: Asked in an NBC interview on Wednesday if a chemical attack by Russia would be a red line that would prompt the US to become more actively involved in combat, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “I believe that Russians have already crossed all the red lines when they started shelling civilians.” Russia has already killed more than 100 children, Zelensky said, adding: “I don’t understand the meaning of red lines. What else should we wait for? For letting Russians kill 200, 300 or 400 children?”
Coming off Zelensky’s Tuesday address to the Canadian parliament, and Wednesday speech to US Congress – wherein he urged a no-fly zone in both – the Ukrainian leader addressed Germany parliament on Thursday, delivering a similar message while invoking Holocaust imagery and references. This also as the Group of Seven foreign ministers hold a virtual meeting to discuss the crisis.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 17, 2022
US intelligence is being cited in Thursday reports saying Russia has suffered huge military losses, though the allegation is unconfirmed…
Staggering. US intel estimating around 7,000 Russian troops killed in Ukraine, 21,000 wounded. That's industrial-scale carnage. https://t.co/EzDo6xUg6v
— Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary) March 17, 2022
Further Bloomberg details of the battlefield situation that “Ukraine’s military said Russian strikes continued on infrastructure sites and on densely populated areas of cities. But it said the Kremlin’s forces remain bogged down on the ground.” However, “Russia said its troops were advancing through the town of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region in the east.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has castigated Western press reports for what she described as a “distorted picture” of the reality of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. She also said Moscow is not seeking to remove Ukraine’s statehood.
“Let me stress once again what both the Western mass media and the Western establishment refuse to see: this operation is not targeted at the civilian population. It does not pursue the aim of seizing the country’s territory, ruining its statehood or ousting the current president. We keep saying this again and again,” she described to a news briefing.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 17, 2022
Interestingly the statement constituted among the clearest denials so far that Russia is seeking full regime change in Kiev, also amid conjecture that it will seek a permanent occupation or even annexation of the country.
“The Western media are forming an absolutely distorted picture of current events. They disinform their own population. They are a propaganda tool in the hands of their politicians,” Zakharova said.
The #US has provided #Ukraine with $2.7 billion in military assistance in the years since 2014 to prepare the army for a confrontation with #Russia and is still sending over $1 billion weapons for #Ukrainians to fight and die in a war we know what but not when will be the end. pic.twitter.com/RRskyJL2K5
— Elijah J. Magnier ?? (@ejmalrai) March 17, 2022
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports amid speculation over whether or not Moscow made its dollar bond interest payment in rubles, “Russia’s Finance Ministry said a $117 million interest payment due on two dollar bonds had been made to Citibank in London amid mounting speculation that the country is heading for a default. Russia had until the end of business Wednesday to honor the coupons on the two notes. The ruble gained for a sixth day in Moscow trading, while the country’s stock market remains shut.”