Russia welcomes first 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 issued by his office following the meeting, Nehammer stated Monday that his primary message to Putin was “that war must end, because 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.

After talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Karl Nehammer, Austrian Chancellor, speaks at a news conference 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.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, and Karl Nehammer, the Austrian Chancellor, attended 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 responsible will be held accountable, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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