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Ukraine war: Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer downbeat after face-to-face talks with Putin

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By AP & Euronews
Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 11, 2022.
Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 11, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko   -  

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he urged Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine in a face-to-face meeting on Monday.

Nehammer is the first EU leader to meet with the Russian president in Moscow since the beginning of the invasion.

The chancellor described "very direct, open and tough" talks in a statement from his office following the meeting.

"I have no optimistic impression that I can bring you from this conversation with President Putin," he said.

"The offensive is obviously being massively prepared, but therefore also the clear commitment that stable access of the international red cross is needed."

Nehammer added that his primary message to Putin was that “this war needs to end because in war both sides can only lose."

Nehammer told Putin that those responsible for war crimes in Bucha, the Ukrainian city outside of Kyiv where dead bodies were found in mass graves and in the streets, and elsewhere would be “held to account."

He also stressed the need for humanitarian corridors so that civilians trapped in besieged cities can access food and water, according to the statement.

At a press conference, Nehammer said face-to-face talks "discussing the horrors of war" could have a greater impact in the long term but that he walked away without much optimism for an end to the war soon.

“It might be necessary to do it 100 times,” Nehammer said of the meeting. “But I think it's necessary to do it so that peace reigns again and the people of Ukraine can live safely.”

Austria has supported EU sanctions but is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO. Nehammer tweeted ahead of the meeting that the country has a clear position on the "Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. It must stop."

Nehammer said he told Putin the EU is “as united as it’s ever been” on the issue of sanctions, and that these will remain in place - and may even be strengthened - as long as Ukrainians continue to die.