During the virtual G20 meeting yesterday, Nov. 22, President Vladimir Putin gave some of his most conciliatory comments since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine – but inisted it was Ukraine, not the war he launched, that was standing in the way of peace.

Addressing remarks from other leaders expressing shock over the ongoing war in Ukraine and seeking to justify the Russian invasion, Putin reiterated Moscow’s readiness for peace talks with Ukraine while accusing Kyiv of neglecting these efforts.

Putin said Russia has always been “ready for talks” to end the “tragedy” of war in Ukraine.

“Some colleagues have already said in their speeches that they are shocked by Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. Yes, of course, military actions are always the tragedy of specific people, specific families, and the country as a whole. Of course, we must think about how to stop this tragedy,” Putin said.

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“By the way, Russia has never refused peace talks with Ukraine. It is not Russia but Ukraine that has publicly announced that it is withdrawing from the negotiation process,” he added.

Speaking further, the Russian president shifted the focus to the topic of conflict in the Middle East.

“I understand that this war, the death of people, shocks,” he said. “And the extermination of the civilian population in Palestine, the Gaza Strip, is it not shocking today?

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He also repeated Russia’s refrain that Kyiv had attacked its own people in a “civil war” in the Donbas in 2014, referring to the Revolution of Dignity as a “coup.”

It was another example of a tactic Putin and pro-Russian mouthpieces have resorted to in recent years: accusing the West of transgressions, often distorting reality, as a way to deflect attention from Moscow’s aggression.

Meanwhile Putin has never offered any concessions with respect to Ukrainian territory taken illegally and by force since 2014.

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The address marks Putin’s first appearance at the G20 summit since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Both US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping opted not to partake in the G20 video summit. China’s representation at the meeting was led by Prime Minister Li Qiang.

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