Kremlin denies Russian assault on Azovstal steelworks in Ukraine
According to the Kremlin Spokesperson, Russia is monitoring EU discussions on banning the country's oil imports and no advance is achieved in the Moscow-Kiev talks.
The Kremlin denied on Wednesday that Russia was attacking the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol after Ukraine accused Moscow of launching a "powerful" assault on the industrial zone where Kiev's military is stationed.
"The order was publicly given by the supreme commander-in-chief to call off the assault," Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, referring to an order given by President Vladimir Putin last month not to pursue an attack on the area. "There is no storming," Peskov said.
He said that there are instances of "exacerbation" at the site when Ukrainian "militants take up firing positions." "These attempts are suppressed very quickly," Peskov said.
The Russian army stated it was targeting Azovstal with artillery and jets, while the Ukrainian Defense Ministry accused them of taking advantage of a halt in fighting to retake their battle positions at the factory.
Kremlin monitoring EU discussions on banning Russian oil imports
Moscow is keeping an eye on discussions in the EU on imposing a ban on Russian oil imports, Peskov said on Wednesday, in response to a new sanctions package proposed by Brussels.
Earlier in the day, the European Commission announced that it will publish the sixth package of anti-Russia measures, which will propose a ban on all Russian oil exports to Europe.
"These are plans, for now, the discussion is ongoing. We are following this, we are calculating a variety of options. In general, if we talk about the sanctions field, their sanctions aspirations: the Americans, the Europeans, and other countries — this is a double-edged weapon, by trying to inflict damage to us, they also have to pay a big price," Peskov told reporters.
Kremlin says no advance in Moscow-Kiev talks
There has been no progress in the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, with Moscow recording communications regarding Kiev's desire to withdraw from the discussions, according to Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday.
"It is still hardly possible to state any dynamics on the negotiation track, rather the opposite ... And the inconsistency of the Ukrainian side has also been repeatedly stated by us at various levels. They change their position every day, but such statements are more and more often heard from Kiev. Yes, we record it too," Peskov told reporters, commenting on Kiev's plans to withdraw from the talks.
The Spokesperson added that this inconsistency "does not inspire confidence that this negotiation process can somehow end productively."
Kremlin says no agreements on meeting between Putin, Pope Francis
There are no plans for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis, according to Peskov, who added that such attempts should go through diplomatic channels.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the Pope expressed willingness to fly to Moscow to speak with Putin in order to assist resolve the Ukrainian situation.
"Such initiatives should go through the diplomatic services. There are no meeting arrangements made," Peskov told reporters.