Vladimir Putin has said Moscow has never refused the “diplomatic track” to resolving the conflict in Ukraine, in a phone call with his South African counterpart, according to the Kremlin. The Russian president said on Friday he supported South African president Cyril Ramaphosa’s proposal to involve African leaders in talks regarding a peace process for Ukraine, the Kremlin’s readout of the call said.
Russia’s defence ministry has said Ukrainian forces carried out “offensive operations” along the entire line of contact near Soledar, the ministry’s official Zvezda news outlet reported. More than a thousand troops and up to 40 tanks were used in Thursday’s assault, it said on Friday, adding that the attacks were “repulsed”.
The UN nuclear watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi, plans to present an agreement with Russia and Ukraine on protecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the UN security council this month, indicating a deal is close, four diplomats have told Reuters. Grossi has been trying for months to secure an agreement to reduce the risk of a catastrophic accident from shelling at the Russian-occupied nuclear power station, Europe’s biggest.