(Moscow) The Kremlin denounced on Thursday a lack of “willingness to listen to Russia” after the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States, during which he received new promises of aid, proof for Moscow that Washington is waging an “indirect war” in Ukraine.
During this trip, his first abroad since the start of the Russian offensive in February, Mr. Zelensky was received as a hero in Washington, talking with his counterpart Joe Biden and delivering a speech to the applause of parliamentarians Americans.
The Ukrainian head of state has garnered the promise of a massive support package of nearly $45 billion and new arms deliveries with, for the first time, the supply of the Patriot air defense system.
“So far, we can note with regret that neither (US) President Joe Biden nor President Zelensky have said anything that could be perceived as a potential willingness to listen to Russia’s concerns,” reacted Thursday the spokesman of the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov.
According to Mr. Peskov, during this visit there were no “genuine calls for peace” or American “warnings” to Mr. Zelensky against “the continued bombardment of residential buildings in populated areas of the Donbass”, a region in eastern Ukraine partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists and regularly targeted by Ukrainian forces.
“It shows that the United States is continuing its de facto and indirect line of war with Russia, down to the last Ukrainian,” the Kremlin spokesman added.
On Wednesday, the day of Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the United States, the Kremlin warned against further US arms deliveries to Ukraine, which would only “aggravate” the conflict.
Mr. Zelensky told him that Western aid to his country, which has become a crucial element of the conflict, was an “investment in global security and democracy”, and “not charity”.
Russia has suffered major setbacks on the ground in recent months: its troops have been driven out of the Kharkiv region in the northeast and from the city of Kherson in the south.
In response, Moscow opted from October for a tactic of massive bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure, depriving millions of people of electricity, water and heating in the middle of winter.
These cuts particularly affected the capital, Kyiv, where the energy situation remained “difficult” Thursday, according to the head of the military administration of the city, Serguiï Popko.
The Patriot system provided by the United States should precisely strengthen the Ukrainian defense against Russian strikes “significantly”, according to Mr. Zelensky.
By setting his army’s priorities for 2023, Vladimir Putin promised to continue to strengthen Russia’s military capabilities, including nuclear ones.
He thus announced the entry into service “at the beginning of January” of the new Russian hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles and envisaged increasing the number of Russian army personnel to 1.5 million soldiers.
Its Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, at the same time assured that the Russian troops were fighting “the combined forces of the West” and revealed that Moscow intended to install bases to support its fleet in Mariupol and Berdiansk, two occupied cities. from southern Ukraine.
Mr. Shoigu also went for an inspection of Russian positions in Ukraine, his ministry said Thursday without specifying the place or date of this visit. He had already visited the area of the operation a few days earlier, a sign of Moscow’s desire for closer control over its troops there.
On the ground, fighting and shelling continued Thursday with at least one dead and 14 wounded across the country over the past day, according to the Ukrainian presidency.
On the Russian side, the ex-boss of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin, was injured in a Ukrainian strike on a hotel in Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and must undergo surgery.
According to Moscow, this strike, which also killed and injured several other people, was “probably” carried out using a French Caesar cannon, several of which were delivered to Kyiv by Paris.
The only Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, currently being repaired in the Far North, was the victim of a fire which did not cause any casualties, Russian press agencies reported.