Putin ‘will seize all the land he can after abandoning peace talks’

Vladimir Putin ‘wants to win big’ and hopes to conquer as much territory as possible before the war ends, Moscow insiders claim (Image: AP / Reuters)

Vladimir Putin has dropped peace talks with Ukraine so he can conquer as much territory as he can before the war ends, Kremlin sources say.

He feels that the negotiations have reached a ‘dead end’ and will not sign anything after the sinking of the Moscow warship left him humiliated, according to the three Moscow insiders.

One told the Financial Times: ‘There was hope for a deal. Putin went back and forth. He must find a way out of this as a winner. ‘

Another added: ‘Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears about [Russian] TV and he wants to win big. ‘

A senior member of the Ukrainian delegation, Rustem Umirov, said: ‘We are continuing the negotiation process. Primarily – to save more lives for our people.

‘We will use all the political and diplomatic efforts to stop this bloodshed. But there are red lines we will never cross. Ukraine will never give up its people and its territories. ‘

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow today in the highest-profile peacekeeping mission since the war began.

A volunteer places the stretcher carrying Klavidia, 91, on the ground before boarding a train at a train station in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, on Monday, April 25, 2022, to escape the war in Severodonetsk and nearby cities.  Russia on Monday unleashed a series of attacks on Ukrainian railway and fuel installations that hit crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive.  (AP Photo / Leo Correa)

Klavidia, 91, is carried on a train in Pokrovsk as she flees Vladimir Putin’s war (Photo: AP

Mandatory credit: Photo by EyePress News / REX / Shutterstock (12873665g) A picture of the destruction of the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on Saturday, March 26, 2022. There is growing evidence of mass graves in the besieged city of Mariupol, UN official human rights teams currently in Ukraine said Friday when Russia hinted that it was stepping down its invasion to focus on eastern Ukraine.  Matilda Bogner, head of a UN human rights team currently in the country, said monitors had received information about graves in the southeastern port city, including one that appeared to hold 200 bodies.  The allegations of mass graves in the city came when Ukraine said it feared that about 300 people had been killed in the Mariupol theater bombing on March 16. Besieged Mariupol Destruction, Ukraine - March 26, 2022

Mariupol has endured two months of bombing by Russian forces (Image: REX / Shutterstock)

An armored convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 21, 2022. REUTERS / Chingis Kondarov

An armored convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road in Mariupol (Photo: Reuters)

Moscow has declared ‘victory’ over southern port city after reducing it to rubble (Image: Getty Images)

He said that the conditions for a ceasefire in Ukraine should be created as soon as possible. But Western countries have said they do not have much hope of a breakthrough, and it is clear that people in the Kremlin feel the same way.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba yesterday called on the UN chief to press Russia for an evacuation of the besieged port city of Mariupol.

He said he was concerned that Guterres, by visiting Moscow before moving to Kiev, could be lured into a cunning ‘trap’ set by the Kremlin.

Kuleba said Guterres should primarily focus on one topic – the evacuation of Mariupol.

It is estimated that 100,000 people are trapped inside the southern port city with scarce supplies of food, water or heat after being subjected to a brutal medieval siege for several months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a meeting of the Executive Board of the Public Prosecutor's Office in Moscow, Russia on April 25, 2022. Sputnik / Sergey Guneev / Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTIVE EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Putin is no longer interested in peace talks and just wants as much land as he can, Kremlin insiders have claimed (Image: Reuters)

Smoke rises over a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 25, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko

Thick smoke rises over Azovstal steelworks, where Ukrainian fighter jets are still trapped (Photo: Reuters)

Emergency management specialists and volunteers remove the remains of a theater building that was destroyed during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 25, 2022. REUTERS / Alexander Ermochenko

The 100,000 people trapped inside Mariupol have suffered from a shortage of food, water and fuel after being subjected to a medieval siege (Image: Reuters)

Satellite images show a mass grave site on the northwestern outskirts of Manhush, about 20 kilometers west of Mariupol (Image: AFP / Getty Images)

Today, according to Ukrainian authorities, a third mass grave with civilian bodies was found in the area around Mariupol.

Meanwhile, an estimated 1,000 civilians and 2,000 warriors are hitting the Azovstal steelworks.

With a maze of tunnels beneath it, the site has become the last remaining stronghold of soldiers who have refused to surrender to Russia.

Last week, Putin declared ‘victory’ over Mariupol and asked his troops to block it ‘so that not even a fly comes through’, leaving those still inside starving.

But Russian top brass seemed to have changed its position over the weekend as troops again tried to storm the steelworks.

Conquering Mariupol is seen as strategically crucial, as it will help connect the eastern separatist-controlled Donbas region with Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014.

Kyiv has denied entering into an agreement with Moscow to evacuate civilians from the steelworks and has pressured the UN to be the ‘initiator and guarantor’ of any such agreement.

Yesterday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it would open a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave the country.

But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app: ‘This could be believed if the Russians had not destroyed humanitarian corridors many times before.’

Earlier ceasefire attempts in Mariupol earlier in the war collapsed within hours as Russian troops were accused of resuming their bombings as civilians fled for their lives.

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