The Kremlin's chief spokesman said over the weekend that Russia-Ukraine peace talks should continue but asserted that Ukraine has been a "hostile country" against Moscow for years now.
“Ukraine is a very difficult country for us. It is in its current state a country hostile towards us,” Dmitry Peskov, the chief spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Belarus state media over the weekend, according to RIA Novosti.
"It is a country that, de-facto, has completely banned any Russian-language Russian media outlets. It is a country that has turned Russian into a second-class language,” Peskov said, while adding that the government allegedly has backed and promoted Ukrainian nationalists.
“We still expect and hope that, one way or another, manifestations of nationalist ideas will get banned in Ukraine, we hope that the Russian language will restore its position in Ukraine,” he continued.
Moscow and Kyiv have held several rounds of negotiations in Turkey, by video conference, and elsewhere since the start of the conflict on Feb. 24. Few results, however, have been produced so far.
"The main thing is that the talks continue, either in Istanbul or somewhere else," said Peskov, adding that these negotiations are "not easy."
Russia would like to continue talks in nearby Belarus, Peskov said. Ukrainian officials have rejected the idea, however.
On April 1, Peskov said that Putin ordered the country's military to provide more support to Russia's western borders to prevent an attack or counterattack.
Moscow has said that Ukraine needs to declare itself a neutral country and never join NATO, while Ukraine has said Russia's offensive in the country was unprovoked.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, top Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of carrying out mass executions in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The mayor of the town alleged that Chechen fighters loyal to Russia may have been responsible, as they were the ones who controlled the suburb for the past several weeks.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense posted footage that allegedly showed dead civilians, including “some with hands tied behind their backs, their bodies scattered in the streets of the city." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba similarly wrote that war crimes were committed.
European Union officials expressed alarm and said the bloc is readying even more economic sanctions against Russia.