Politics

Russia welcomes first EU head of state to Moscow since Ukraine invasion began

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Monday became the first leader from a European Union country to visit Moscow during its bloody invasion of Ukraine, holding what he described as a “very direct, open and tough” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Nehammer’s Moscow visit comes after a trip on Saturday to Kyiv, where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  

In a statement released by his office after the meeting, Nehammer said Monday his primary message to Putin was “that this war needs to end, because in war both sides can only lose.” 

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on Monday.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on Monday.
(Reuters)

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The Austrian leader stressed that the Monday trip was “not a friendly visit,” but rather his “duty” to exhaust every possibility for ending the violence in Ukraine. 

Austria, according to Reuters, gets 80% of its natural gas from Russia. Austria is a member of the European Union and has backed the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, though it so far has opposed cutting off deliveries of Russian gas. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer attend a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer attend a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on Saturday.

The sit-down with Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow lasted around 75 minutes, Reuters reported. 

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In his conversation with Putin, Nehammer also said he raised the issue of “serious war crimes” committed by the Russian military in the Ukrainian city of Bucha and others.  

“All those who are responsible will be held to account,” he added. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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