'We will strive for an end to this' - Putin says he wants talks, Patriot missiles 'quite old'

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  • Russia dismissed Ukraine's acquisition of Patriot missiles from the US.
  • Vladimir Putin called for negotiations to end the war.
  • The US is sceptical about Russia's call for negotiations.

Russia said that Ukraine acquiring Patriot missiles from the United States, announced during President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Washington, would not help settle the conflict or prevent Moscow from achieving its goals.

Though the Patriot air defence system is widely regarded as advanced, President Vladimir Putin dismissed it as "quite old", telling reporters Moscow would find a way to counter it. 

At the same time, he said Russia wants an end to the war in Ukraine and that this would inevitably involve a diplomatic solution.

"Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war," Putin said. 

"We will strive for an end to this, and the sooner the better, of course."

READ | Kremlin says Biden, Zelensky refusing to hear 'Russia's concerns'

These comments drew quick US scepticism. White House spokesperson John Kirby said Putin had "shown absolutely zero indication that he's willing to negotiate" an end to the war.

"Everything he (Putin) is doing on the ground and in the air bespeaks a man who wants to continue to visit violence upon the Ukrainian people (and) escalate the war," Kirby told reporters.

Russia has repeatedly said it is open to negotiations, but Ukraine and its allies suspect a ploy to buy time after a series of Russian battlefield defeats and retreats that have swung the momentum of the 10-month war in favour of Ukraine.

Zelensky returns from his first wartime foreign trip buoyed by the support shown by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Zelensky said on Telegram:

We are coming back from Washington with good results. With something that will really help.

The Biden administration announced another $1.85 billion in military aid for Ukraine, including a Patriot system, as Zelensky began his visit.

But the visit leaves many questions unanswered, including how US military aid could evolve, whether US Congressional support will endure, and how the war will end.

US officials say a single Patriot battery will not change the course of the war.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said deployment of the Patriot system in Ukraine was not conducive to a settlement.

"And this cannot prevent the Russian Federation from achieving its goals during the special military operation," he said, using Russia's term for a war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Zelensky told the US Congress that American aid to his country was an investment in democracy and the Patriot system was an important step in creating an air shield.

Ukraine has come under repeated Russian aerial strikes targeting its energy infrastructure, leaving millions without power or running water in the dead of winter.

Zelensky made a plea for bipartisan support as Republicans - some of whom have voiced increasing scepticism about sending so much aid to Ukraine - are set to take control of the US House of Representatives from Democrats on 3 January.

With a vote scheduled in the House of Representatives on Friday, Congress moved closer to approving an additional $44.9 billion in emergency military and economic assistance, part of wider US government spending bill. 

That is on top of some $50 billion already sent to Ukraine this year.

The White House said on Thursday that a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, took delivery last month of infantry rockets and missiles from North Korea to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

Britain said it reached the same conclusion and condemned the move. But Wagner's head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, dismissed the talk as "gossip and speculation".

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