Advertisement

State Department's Antony Blinken says Russia still not serious about peace talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) meets with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira during a sideline meeting of G20 foreign ministers Wednesday. According to the Russian News Agency Tass, Lavrov held a closed-door meeting with his Brazilian counterpart in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss strengthening relations. Handout Photo by Russian Foreign Press Service for EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) meets with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira during a sideline meeting of G20 foreign ministers Wednesday. According to the Russian News Agency Tass, Lavrov held a closed-door meeting with his Brazilian counterpart in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss strengthening relations. Handout Photo by Russian Foreign Press Service for EPA-EFE

March 1 (UPI) -- As fighting intensified Wednesday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia has shown no signs of wanting to discuss peace.

During a visit to Uzbekistan on Wednesday, Blinken said the Biden administration has seen "zero evidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared for serious peace talks.

Advertisement

"To the contrary, the evidence is all in the other direction," Blinken said. "The real question is whether Russia will get to a point where it is genuinely prepared to end its aggression."

Blinken said Uzbekistan was one of the nations most affected by the war because of its proximity to Russia. Kazakhstan, which Blinken visited on Tuesday, has said that a peace plan China recently proposed deserves consideration.

However, Blinked dismissed that idea on Wednesday, saying China has not demonstrated a commitment to territorial integrity because it has not condemned Russia's war of aggression.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, intense fighting in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut continued Wednesday as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signaled preparations for a possible counteroffensive in the war.

"We are preparing for the return of our warriors to actions for the liberation of our land," Zelensky said in his nightly address.

Also Wednesday, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces said that 800 Russian soldiers had died near Bakhmut since Thursday, as the city remains the main fighting area at the moment.

Ukraine's 79th air Air Assault Brigade said Tuesday that one solider took out five Russian tanks in a single day, using Javelin missiles.

In an indication of Russia's commitment to promoting the war, Russian authorities on Wednesday sent a 12-year-old girl to an orphanage after she drew an anti-war picture at school. They also arrested her father after he made an anti-war comment on social media.

Advertisement

The painting by Masha Moskaleva featured a Ukrainian flag and a Russian flag with the phrases "No to war" and "Glory to Ukraine" written on it, as well as a woman shielding her child from Russian missiles.

Her teacher reported her to school authorities, and she was visited at the school by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago continues to be at the forefront of many global discussions today. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Brazilian counterpart in New Delhi in a closed-door sideline meeting of G20 foreign ministers, Russian news agency TASS reported, saying the two sides focused on strengthening relations at a time when Russia is finding itself increasingly isolated on the world stage.

"During the conversation, which took place in a constructive atmosphere, the mutual focus on further strengthening of the entire complex of Russian-Brazilian relations of strategic partnership was reaffirmed, and the schedule of bilateral contacts at various levels was discussed in detail," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Latest Headlines