“‘There are certain positive developments there, as our negotiators reported to me.’”
— Russian President Vladimir Putin, per Kremlin transcript
That was Russian President Vladimir Putin, reportedly, per a transcript released by the Kremlin, speaking to his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenka, an increasingly close and rare ally of the Putin regime.
Putin is quoted as having added that negotiations are not only producing “certain positive developments” but are “now being held on almost a daily basis.”
His comments caught the world’s attention, sparking a rally in U.S. stock futures
while haven assets such as gold
fell, though those moves have since moderated as investors remain wary amid an intensifying and brutal ground war that began more than two weeks ago.
On Friday Russian forces appeared to step up the campaign, with western airports in the country being targeted for the first time, amid reports that Moscow had been trying to recruit Middle Eastern fighters. Elsewhere, a long-stalled convoy of Russian materiel and troops was reportedly maneuvering possibly with a goal of surrounding the capital city Kyiv.
Ukraine officials had yet to respond to Putin’s comments.
High-level talks on Thursday between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign minsters broke down with no progress on a 24-hour ceasefire. Ukraine officials and humanitarian workers are trying to get aid to and evacuate desperate civilians in places such as Mariupol, in a week that saw Russian forces shell a maternity hospital in that southern seaport.
The Russian autocrat also appeared to concede a “massive blow” had been dealt to his country by the sanctions unleashed by Western allies as punishment for the invasion, saying his country will persevere.
Recent years have “shown that where Westerners have introduced restrictions against us, we have acquired new competencies and restored the old ones at a new technological level,” said Putin. “This is just, one might say, a time of opportunity in order to move towards strengthening [Russian] technological and economic sovereignty.”
President Joe Biden was expected to announce on Friday that, along with the European Union and the Group of Seven countries, the U.S. will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its ongoing invasion.