Karl Nehammer visits Moscow as EU leaders discuss sanctions on Russian oil
The Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer’s visit to Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday is intended to tell the Russian president that he has “lost the war morally”, Austria’s foreign minister has said, as the EU discusses how to impose sanctions on Russian oil.
On a day of brisk diplomatic activity, Nehammer is due to become the first western leader to meet Putin since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraineon 24 February.
In Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers are discussing how to help Ukraine further, while Joe Biden will hold talks with Narendra Modi, where the US president is expected to press India’s leader not to increase exports of Russian crude.
Austria’s foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, said someone needed to tell Putin the truth. “It makes a difference to be face to face and tell him what the reality is: that this president has de facto lost the war morally,” Schallenberg said ahead of the meeting with his EU counterparts.
“It should be in his own interest that someone tells him the truth. I think it is important and we owe it to ourselves if we want to save human lives.”
Nehammer said Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whom he met on Saturday, had been informed of his Moscow trip, as had the EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Austria, which is not a member of Nato, is calling for humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire and the full investigation of war crimes.
Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, sounded sceptical about further talks with Putin, after a series of high-profile visits by EU leaders failed to deter the Russian leader from launching his attack. He said: “I have seen a lot of effort by many leaders, by Emmanuel Macron, to try and see whether they can talk to the guy. I personally have no reason to believe that he is ‘talkable’.”
The visit comes as Zelenskiy warned that Russian troops would move to “even larger operations” in the east of Ukraine. In his nightly video address on Sunday, Zelenskiy also accused Russia of trying to evade responsibility for war crimes. “When people lack the courage to admit their mistakes, apologise, adapt to reality and learn, they turn into monsters. And when the world ignores it, the monsters decide that it is the world that has to adapt to them. Ukraine will stop all this,” he said.