Putin’s ‘troops stretched to their limit’ says expert
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The first signs of possible progress have emerged after the latest series of talks between Russia and Ukraine this afternoon. Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian negotiator and adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said he hoped to achieve “some results literally in a matter of days”. He warned, however, that his country would not “concede in principle on any positions”, something which he claimed Russia “now understands”.
Likewise, Russian politician Leonid Slutsky was quoted as saying he expects “progress may grow in the coming days into a position of both delegations, into documents for signing”.
Nonetheless, the eyes of the West remain on Vladimir Putin’s every move on day 18 of the war, with dozens of innocent civilians still dying every day.
Putin has rarely seen eye to eye with the West and particularly objects to NATO’s eastward expansion, which he sees as a threat to Russia’s security.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron offered an insight into Putin’s views on Western values, as he recalled hosting him at No10 in 2013.
Speaking on LBC’s Tonight With Andrew Marr, Mr Cameron recalled Putin “let his guard down and said, ‘Fundamentally I’m not a democrat and I don’t share your interests.’”
The former Tory leader added that he “never had any belief that he did”.
Mr Cameron continued: “He also was a phenomenal liar. I remember confronting him with evidence that Russian troops were in the Donbass — he flat out lied.
“I remember confronting him with evidence about the shooting down of the Malaysian airline — he flat out lied.”
When Mr Cameron first entered No10 in May 2010, he was determined to improve the poor relationship between Putin and the UK.
It started well, with Putin visiting London for the 2012 Olympics and witnessing Russian gymnast Tagir Khaybulaev win the gold medal.
However, their relationship took a turn for the worst in September 2013 at the G20 summit in St Petersburg.
After a long day of talks with other world leaders, they sat down for a private conversation at 2:30am.
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A 2015 report in the Daily Mail revealed that the ‘agree to disagree’ approach went out of the window in the late-night talks.
The report said: “The conversation takes a bizarre twist and they end up having a ‘bicker fest’ about gay rights, both wanting to have the last word.
“Cameron is riding a high horse, using arguments fresh from his jousting on gay marriage back home, while Putin argues that Russia’s future demography will have problems if gay people are allowed to marry each other and that the country will not have enough children to secure its future.”
The report added: “They are acting like executives at a sales conference who have stayed up too late at the bar.
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“Aides on both sides just wish they’d shut up so they can all go to bed, amazed that they are still talking so late into the night in the midst of such an important international event.”
Same-sex marriages and civil unions are banned in Russia, and while homosexuality has been legal since 1993, it is frowned upon by large swathes of the population.
While the late-night row did not entirely destroy their relationship, Putin burnt all bridges the next year with his invasion and annexation of Crimea.
Mr Cameron was reported to have called his Russian counterpart, telling him: “Stop the aggression.”
Putin replied: “This is my backyard. The West has humiliated me for ten years.”
Fast forward eight years and Putin is being humiliated yet again. A captured Russian bomber pilot urged his comrades not to attack Kyiv this weekend, telling TV cameras that Putin had already lost.
Lieutenant Colonel Maxim Krishtop was shot down during a bombing raid last Sunday and subsequently captured. He begged Ukrainians for forgiveness and called attempts to invade Kyiv “pointless”.
He said: “The invasion of such a huge city as Kyiv is pointless – it will lead to huge losses of life on both sides, and huge destruction.
“I urge you to stop following criminal orders, stop fighting, and stop killing civilians — you can see we have already lost this war.”
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