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First EU leader to visit Russia amid Ukraine conflict

Radio RT Citing Russian and Austrian officials on April 10, Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer is expected to visit Moscow on April 11.

Kronen Zeitung of Austria was the first to report on Mr. Nehammer’s upcoming visit. Kronen Zeitung Citing a source close to the matter, the Austrian Prime Minister seeks to become a “bridger” and mediator for peace between Moscow and Kiev.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer talk before a meeting in Kiev on April 9. (Photo: Reuters)

Prime Minister Nehammer’s office also confirmed the upcoming visit to the news agency TASSwhile Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Austrian leader will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Yes. We confirm [các cuộc đàm phán]”, Mr. Peskov told RIA Novosti.

Earlier, on April 10, Mr. Nehammer visited Kiev, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as well as other top officials. During the visit, the Austrian Chancellor expressed his support for Kiev, declaring that the EU would continue to increase sanctions against Russia “until the war is over”.

On the same day, Mr. Nehammer visited the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kiev, where Ukraine and the West say hundreds of civilians were found dead after Russian forces withdrew.

The Russian Defense Ministry on April 3 denied Ukraine’s accusations that Russian troops killed civilians in Bucha. The ministry said Russian troops left Bucha on March 30, while fake evidence about the incident was presented four days later, when Ukrainian security forces arrived in the locality.

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Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer arrives in the town of Bucha, on the outskirts of Kiev, on April 9. Photo: Bild

For his part, during a press conference with Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer, President Zelensky stated that Ukraine is always ready for dialogue to find a diplomatic solution to the current conflict.

Earlier, on April 6, President Zelensky in an interview with Turkish Haberturk TV channel also affirmed:In any case, we must find opportunities, however small, for progress. Without this process, I think it would be difficult to end the war“.

Austria is a member of the European Union and has supported the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, although it has so far opposed the ban on Russian gas imports.

Austria is militarily neutral and is not a member of NATO. Prime Minister Nehammer said he made the trip himself and had consulted with top European Union officials, and informed both Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine at the end of February, after accusing Kiev of failing to comply with the terms of the 2014 Minsk agreement. Moscow stated that the goal of this special military operation was to “de-militarize ” and “de-fascist” Ukraine. Russia made one of the important requirements to stop the operation is that Ukraine must commit to pursuing neutrality status, permanently not joining NATO.

On April 8, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow hopes the special military operation in Ukraine can be completed in the “coming days”. Peskov noted that the operation is still ongoing and is achieving its goals, while accelerating the negotiation process with Ukraine.

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