Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Monday he had urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine and raised the issue of “serious war crimes” by the Russian military.
ehammer was the first European leader to meet Putin in Moscow since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
In a statement released after the meeting, the Austrian Chancellor said his main message to Putin in the “very direct, frank and tough” talks was that “this war must end because in war both sides can only lose”.
Nehammer told Putin all those responsible for war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Bucha and elsewhere would be “held accountable”.
He also stressed the need to open humanitarian corridors so that civilians trapped in attacked cities have access to basic services such as food and water, he said.
The Austrian leader called the Moscow trip to Moscow his “duty” to explore any opportunity to end the violence in Ukraine, which came just two days after his trip to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
At a press conference in Moscow, Nehammer said face-to-face meetings to “look each other in the eye and discuss the horrors of war” could have a greater impact in the long run.
But he said he left the meeting without much optimism about an early end to the war.
“It might need to be done 100 times,” Nehammer said of the meeting.
“But I think it is necessary to do it so that there can be peace again and the people of Ukraine can live safely.”
EU member Austria backed the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, although it has so far spoken out against cutting off Russian gas supplies.
The country is militarily neutral and not a NATO member.
But Nehammer and other Austrian officials have stressed that military neutrality does not mean moral neutrality.
“We are militarily neutral but have a clear position on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine,” Nehammer wrote on Twitter on Sunday announcing his trip to Moscow. “That has to stop.”
Nehammer said he told Putin the EU is “more united than ever” on the issue of sanctions and that they will remain in place – and possibly even be strengthened – as long as Ukrainians keep dying.
Earlier Monday, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said Nehammer had decided to travel to Moscow after meeting Zelenskyy
Kyiv and subsequent contacts with the heads of state and government of Turkey, Germany and the European Union.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg, Schallenberg said it was an attempt to “seize every chance to end humanitarian aid
Hell” in Ukraine.
He added that “any voice that makes clear to President Putin what the reality is like outside the walls of the Kremlin is not a wasted voice.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/austrian-chancellor-karl-nehammer-meets-with-russian-president-vladimir-putin-but-is-left-without-much-optimism-for-an-end-to-war-41543276.html Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin but remains “without much optimism” for an end to the war