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Ready to meet ‘if there is an interest for a way to end war’; Biden on Russian invasion

Ready to meet ‘if there is an interest for a way to end war’; Biden on Russian invasion

Washington – US President Joe Biden said he is ready to meet Russia's Vladimir Putin "if in fact there is an interest in him deciding that he's looking for a way to end the war". French President Emmanuel Macron says he will continue to talk to Putin to "prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results".

Joe Biden however stressed Mr Putin had not yet done that, while addressing reporters after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office.

U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron also said in a joint statement after their talks on Thursday that they were committed to holding Russia to account "for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies" in Ukraine.

The French leader made clear they would never urge Ukraine to make a compromise it considered unacceptable.

They were speaking as a senior Ukrainian official said that between 10,000 and 13,000 of its soldiers had been killed since the start of Russia's invasion on 24 February.

Neither Ukraine nor Russia tend to release figures for casualties, and the remarks by presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak have not been confirmed by the Ukrainian military.

Speaking to Ukrainian TV outlet Channel 24, Mr Podolyak said Kyiv was "openly talking about the number of the killed". He added that the number of civilians killed could be "significant". He also suggested that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion.

In a video address on Wednesday, EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said that 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed. However a spokesperson for the EU Commission later clarified that this was a mistake, and the figure referred to those both killed and wounded. Ms von der Leyen had also spoken of 20,000 Ukrainian civilian deaths.

The European Union reached a tentative agreement on an oil price cap to reduce Moscow's export earnings.

Western powers are attempting to rally support for Ukraine, which is reeling from missile and drone attacks on power, water, and heat in its cities, just as winter arrives nine months into Russia's invasion.

Meanwhile, Russia accused the US and NATO of playing a direct and dangerous role in the war, claiming that Washington had turned Kyiv into an existential threat that Moscow could not ignore.

The European Union tentatively agrees on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil. The measure would need to be approved by all EU governments in a written procedure by Friday.

There are no political talks underway to end the war, which Russia began on Feb. 24 as a "special military operation" claiming its aim was to disarm its neighbour and root out leaders it characterises as dangerous nationalists.

Ukraine and the West call it an imperialist land grab, which has killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers on both sides.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a video posted on Thursday night, remarked that Dec. 1 was the anniversary of a referendum 31 years ago when Ukraine - then still part of the Soviet Union - voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence.

"Our desire to live freely ... will not be broken. Ukrainians will never again be a tiny stone in some empire," Zelenskiy said.

Hours later in the early hours of Friday, Russian forces shelled a building in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, setting it ablaze, city official Anatoly Krutyev said.

In a sign some channels of communication remain open, Russia's Defence Ministry and the head of Ukraine's presidential administration said the two countries swapped 50 service personnel on Thursday.
-Reuters/BBC

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