Austrian chancellor calls meeting with Putin ‘unfriendly’ and ‘tough’

Austrian chancellor calls meeting with Putin ‘unfriendly’ and ‘tough’

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer met face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, calling the encounter “unfriendly” and “tough” after raising points about Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine.

Nehammer was the first Western leader to sit down with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. While Austria is not a member of NATO, as a member of the European Union (EU), it has backed sanctions against Russia.

“This is not a friendly visit,” Nehammer said in a statement after the meeting. “I have just come from Ukraine and have seen with my own eyes the immeasurable suffering caused by the Russian war of aggression.”

According to Nehammer’s office, as reported by CNN, the pair spoke for about 75 minutes at Putin’s residence outside Moscow. Before the talks, Nehammer said he intended to tell Putin that he “lost the war morally.”

“It should be in his [Putin’s] own interest that someone tells him the truth,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said. “I think it is important and we owe it to ourselves if we want to save human lives.”

Previously, Nehammer met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and visited Bucha, where Russian forces killed unarmed civilians and left their bodies on the streets. Nehammer said he addressed those “war crimes” in the meeting and urged for humanitarian corridors.

Despite its backing of EU sanctions, Austria ruled out any sanctions that target oil and gas coming from Russia since it heavily depends on them. Amid ongoing meetings, multiple foreign ministers said Monday that the EU’s executive is drafting proposals for an oil embargo on Russia, as reported by Reuters.

Russia is preparing to launch a new offensive attack on the eastern region of Ukraine after it failed to take Kyiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

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