Austrian Chancellor Says Putin Willing to Take Part in International Probe on War Crimes in Ukraine
Ukrainian and Western officials and media have spent weeks accusing Russian troops of grisly war crimes in Ukraine, from sexual assaults and executions of civilians to other violent acts. Russian officials have pointed to major holes in the Ukrainian and Western narrative and pointed to documented evidence of war crimes committed by Kiev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed willingness to participate in an international investigation on war crimes in Ukraine, but remains wary of the West, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said.
"He told me that he will cooperate with an international investigation on one hand. On the other, he told me that he doesn't trust the Western world. So this will be the problem now in the future. I think...an international investigation is necessary, and so it was a tough discussion between each other," Nehammer said, speaking to NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.
The Austrian chancellor visited Moscow on Monday for talks with Putin.
Prior to his trip, Nehammer visited Kiev and Bucha, the Kiev suburb that Ukrainian and Western officials claim was the scene of the execution of hundreds of civilians at the hands of Russian troops. Russian and independent media analyses of footage from Bucha have since cast major doubts on these claims, pointing to evidence that the war crimes took place after Ukrainian military police units and neo-Nazi national guard forces showed up and promised to punish "Russian collaborators."
"I did a trip to Moscow to confront President Putin with what I saw. You know it was not a friendly conversation. It was a frank and tough conversation. And I told him what I saw. I saw the war crimes. I saw the massive loss of the Russian army, and I told him that there is a need for humanitarian corridors for cities like Mariupol or Kharkov, for example," Nehammer said.
The chancellor added that he "tried to convince" the Russian leader that the "international investigation" of the actions of commanders following the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia was "useful to prosecute the war criminals."
Nehammer expressed pessimism about the future of the crisis in Ukraine, saying he has seen evidence of preparations for a "massive battle" in the Donbass. "We will see many losses of human lives there. This is the reason I am pessimistic, on the one hand. On the other hand, both sides - President Zelensky (I talked with President Zelensky about the trip to Moscow)...and both sides mentioned the Istanbul peace talks. Maybe we have a little chance there for peace. I also informed about that the president of Turkey, President Erdogan," he said.
Asked by Meet the Press host Chuck Todd whether Putin has a grip on reality, Nehammer said the Russian president was operating on his own logic - citing the genocide of civilians in the Donbass people's republics by Kiev forces, and the need to obtain security guarantees for Russia itself.
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