Putin tells EU that Moscow could help Kiev avoid shelling

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Putin tells EU that Moscow could help Kiev avoid shelling

The head of the European Council discussed the situation in Ukraine with the Russian leader.

Moscow could encourage Kiev to refrain from massive shelling of Donbass and from commiting other gross violations of international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday.

The Kremlin said during a lengthy phone call that Putin called off the assault on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol and Russia's efforts to protect civilians during the ongoing Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Putin brought attention to the irresponsible statements of EU representatives about the need to solve the situation in Ukraine by military means, apparently referring to the recent statement by top EU diplomat Josep Borrel.

It was noted that Brussels could influence Kiev authorities in order to stop the massive shelling of Donbass settlements and other gross violations of international humanitarian law.

The Russian president also criticized EU officials for allegedly ignoring the purported war crimes of the Ukrainian security forces, as well as openly supporting Russophobia.

In his readout of the call, Michel strongly urged for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities, especially ahead of the Orthodox Easter, which will be celebrated on April 24.

The EU's position was reiterated firmly, with support for Ukraine and her sovereignty, condemnation and sanctions for Russia's aggression. The head of the EU Commission wrote that our unity, principles and values are inviolable.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow had not received a response from Kiev to its latest peace proposals. In the minister's opinion, this suggests that Ukraine does not need negotiations at all.

Since the launch of Russia's military attack on Ukraine on February 24, Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of hampering civilian evacuations, committing war crimes and violating international law. There have been a number of rounds of peace negotiations that have not been fruitful.

Russia attacked its neighbor after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force. Western countries have condemned Russia's offensive and imposed hard-hitting sanctions on Moscow.