Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson has acknowledged a “significant” loss in Russian troops since the invasion began. He told Sky News that their deaths were a “tragedy”.
Dmitry Peskov also stated that Russia is hopeful that “this operation” will achieve its goals in his first interview with Western media.
Sky News’ Mark Austin told him that “we live in days of lies and fakes” and that verified photos and satellite images showing dead civilians in the streets in Ukrainian cities was a “bold fake”.
Sky News: He said that he denied the Russian military could have anything in common with the atrocities, and that dead bodies were displayed on the streets of Bucha.
He claimed that the entire situation in Bucha, which photos show many Ukrainian civilians being killed, was nothing but a well-staged insinuation.
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“We live in days of lies and fakes”
When asked to give an estimate of the number of civilians who have been killed since the war started on 24 February 2004, Mr Peskov refused to answer, as the numbers weren’t “double confirmed”.
Peskov maintained that it was not a war, but a “special army operation” that was necessary since Ukraine had been an “antiRussian center” since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea.
He did however admit that there were significant losses in troops, which is a tragedy.
The Kremlin is keen to end the war, but it’s not clear what form that will take. He said that the military was doing all they can to end the operation.
“And we hope that in the coming days, in foreseeable future this operation will achieve its goals or be completed by the negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation.”
Continue reading: Putin has “achieved zero” and Ukraine can win, states the US
“NATO’s primary purpose is to confront our nation’
Since years, the Kremlin was concerned that Ukraine would want to join NATO. This is why it invaded.
He stated that NATO was stronger than it was before the invasion.
“It was designed for confrontation, and its main purpose is to confront our nation.”
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He said that Russia must “make our Western flank more advanced in terms of security if Finland and Sweden join NATO”.
He stated that “Everything is about mutual defense and should one side (and we consider NATO to to be one) be more powerful than another, especially in terms nuclear arms, it will be considered an attack on the entire security architecture and will require us to take additional steps.”
“Boris Johnson is very loud with his rhetoric”
Boris Johnson was accused by Mr Peskov of not being constructive when he criticizes Russia.
He said, “He’s very loud about Russia’s rhetoric from the beginning of this operation, he’s rather non-constructive in his attitude.”
“We have never heard Boris Johnson use such rhetoric in the past eight years.”
“When Ukrainian nationalists killed people in Donbas, when they were heavily bombed and bombarded with heavy artillery, we never heard anything from Mr Johnson.”
Mr. Peskov denied any suggestion that the Russian president would be present in a court for war crimes, as Mr. Johnson requested. He simply stated: “We don’t see any opportunity for that, it doesn’t seem realistic.”
Russia withdrew Kyiv in an “act of goodwill”
After the Russian troops had pounded the cities for several weeks, Mr Peskov claimed that Russia pulled out of the Ukrainian regions of Kyiv/Chernihiv in an act of goodwill.
He said, “It was an act of goodwill to lift tensions from those areas and show Russia that it is ready to create conditions for continued negotiations.”
According to the Pentagon, Russian forces had withdrawn completely from the capital and Chernihiv (a city to its north) in the 24 hours preceding Wednesday.
However, US intelligence officials warned that the Russians might have left mines behind. They were still assessing the damage to people and infrastructure.
Mariupol hospital explosion was a fake’
Mariupol is located in Russia’s Donetsk region. Mr Peskov stated that it would be “liberated” from the nationalistic battalions. We hope it will occur sooner than later.
Since the beginning of the war, Russian troops have been occupying the city in the southeast. Thousands of people are now living in basements, without power, food, or water.
According to Mr Peskov, Mariupol is part the “Luhansk People’s Republic”, which Russia recognizes as an independent state. He claimed that troops were present “to help those who had been suffering for eight years due to heavy shelling from Ukraine”.
The Russian Air Force attacked a Mariupol maternity hospital on 9 March. At least 4 people were killed and at least 16 were injured. There was also at least one stillbirth.
It was described by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, as a war crime. However Mr Peskov stated that it was a fake.
He stated that he had very strong reasons to believe the fake was real.