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Putin G20 speech: What Russian leader said in virtual address about Ukraine war ‘tragedy’

This is the first time Putin has used placatory language on an international diplomatic table on his stance on Ukraine war

Arpan Rai
Thursday 23 November 2023 05:16 GMT
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Russian president Vladimir Putin told the leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) on Wednesday it was time to think about how to stop the “tragedy” of the war in Ukraine which entered its 22nd month.

Acknowledging his military operations in the neighbouring nation, the Kremlin chief said some of the leaders mentioned in their speeches that they were shocked by the “continuing aggression” of Russia in Ukraine.

“Yes, of course, military actions are always a tragedy. And of course, we should think about how to stop this tragedy,” he said.

Mr Putin declared a full-scale invasion of the country – calling it a “special military operation” – and despite international calls for peace, continued to send to Ukraine tens of thousands of troops who are trying to capture areas in east and south of the country.

The invasion sparked Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, resulting in the deaths of thousands of troops and civilians in missile and shelling attacks. The war in Ukraine also escalated tensions between Russia and the West to a level not seen since the Cold War.

“By the way, Russia has never refused peace talks with Ukraine,” Mr Putin claimed, even as Russian forces continued to be on Ukrainian soil for territorial land grab in a special push for Avdiivka town in eastern Ukraine.

In another first in the conflict he initiated, Mr Putin used the word “war” instead of the Kremlin’s choice of term “special military operation”.

"I understand that this war, and the death of people, cannot but shock," he said, before propping up the propaganda that Ukraine persecuted people in the east of the country.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014 after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution and Russia annexed Crimea, with Russian-backed separatist forces fighting Ukraine’s armed forces.

Along with Crimea, Russia controls about 17.5 per cent of Ukrainian territory, according to estimates by the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

The Russian leader said the invasion was necessary to overcome what he called a “coup”.

During his roughly 17-minutes-long speech, it appeared that only a handful of countries tuned in to hear him speak, including Spain, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Korea, and hosts India. China and the US had declined to attend, according to a report in Bloomberg.

This is the first time Mr Putin has used placatory language on an international diplomatic table on his stance on the war. The Russian president also accused the West of stoking the war on Ukraine by supplying Kyiv with military aid and funds.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the war has killed about 14,000 people between 2014 and the end of 2021. The toll includes 3,106 civilians.

Contrary to Russia, Ukraine has readied a 10-point peace plan which involves expulsion of Russian forces from all the territories they illegally occupy during the course of invasion, including the illegally annexed Crimea.

Kyiv has vowed it will fight back all attacks till the last Russian soldier is removed from its territory.

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