When Putin asked the FSB to step up security, Moscow said it was open to peace talks, but would not give up the annexed regions.
Russian forces continued their weeks-long efforts to surround and capture the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, with the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces describing the situation as “very tense”.
Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday that Russia was bombing settlements around Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of nearly 70,000 but is now in ruins after months of intense trench warfare.
“Over the past day, our soldiers have repulsed more than 60 enemy attacks,” the military said early Tuesday, including the villages of Yadneh and Birkhivka, north of Bakhmut.
Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Tuesday to bolster forces in the four regions — currently partially controlled by his forces — and also to counter what he described as increased espionage and sabotage against Russia by Ukraine and the West. .
He was speaking after a Russian regional governor said a drone had crashed near a natural gas distribution station on Tuesday, in an apparently failed attack near the town of Kolomna, just 110 km southeast of Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Moscow’s position that it is open to peace negotiations, but that Kiev and its Western allies must accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia – after referendums last September that Kiev and the West said were illegal. .
The Constitution of the Russian Federation exists and cannot be ignored. “Russia will not be able to compromise on this matter, these are important facts,” Peskov told reporters.
Meanwhile, US Under Secretary of Defense for Political Affairs Colin Kahl described the front line in Ukraine as a “grinding slogan” and said he did not expect Russia to be able to make significant territorial gains in the near term.
So you may see small bits of territory shifting in the coming weeks and months. “I don’t think there’s anything I’m seeing that suggests the Russians could sweep into Ukraine and make significant gains on the ground anytime in the next year or so,” Cale said at a House hearing. that”.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the US also said on Tuesday that it would not hesitate to target Chinese companies and individuals if Beijing violated US sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine war.
Blinken told reporters during a trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that if China provides lethal aid to Moscow, it will be a serious problem for Beijing’s relationship with the countries of the world.
According to Agence France-Presse, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence brushed off allegations that China was considering supplying weapons to Russia, telling US media that he saw “no indications that such matters are being discussed”.
The Kremlin said Moscow was open to peace talks, but was not ready to give up the four annexed regions.
The EU energy ministers said that the European Union also made plans on Tuesday to extend measures to reduce gas consumption until next winter to replenish stocks.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said the EU regulation adopted last year expires at the end of March, adding that the Energy Commission considers “continued demand cuts an unrepentant option”.
EU member states will have to agree to any new reduction target next winter, with Germany, the EU’s largest economy, calling for a target above 15 percent.
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