Although there were reports of progress being made during Ukraine–Russia ceasefire talks, a top Kremlin spokesman disputed that assertion as incorrect but said that discussions are still being held on Thursday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Financial Times that the Kyiv government is “in no rush” and dragging its feet. “On the whole,” reports about the progress being made “[are] wrong,” Peskov said. He also criticized President Joe Biden for recently calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” as “unforgivable.”
“No, the work continues [on the talks],” he also said, according to Russian state-backed media. He added Moscow will inform the public of any breakthrough in the negotiations.
On Thursday, Peskov also told Reuters that a number of people inside Russia are acting like “traitors,” claiming the West wanted to use these individuals as a “fifth column” to destroy the country from within.
“In such difficult times … many people show their true colors. Very many people are showing themselves, as we say in Russian, to be traitors,” Peskov told the news agency.
Peskov added: “They vanish from our lives themselves. Some people are leaving their posts, some are leaving their active work life, some leave the country and move to other countries. That is how this cleansing happens.”
On Wednesday evening, Putin released a video issuing a warning to “the so-called fifth column,” or “traitors,” who earn money in Russia “but live over there … live, not in the geographical sense, but in the sense of their thoughts, their slavish thinking.
“Any people, and especially the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish the true patriots from the scum and the traitors, and just to spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin also remarked.
It comes as Ukrainian officials in the city of Mariupol said that rescue efforts are now underway to extract people from a theater that was struck in an airstrike, although it’s not clear where it originated. Russian officials have denied striking the theater on Wednesday.
“The building withstood the impact of a high-powered air bomb and protected the lives of people hiding in the bomb shelter,” Ukraine’s ombudswoman Ludmyla Denisova said on Telegram on Thursday.
“Work is underway to unlock the basement” and surviving adults and children are coming out, she wrote. She said there is no information on casualties so far.
Hundreds of men, women, and children had taken shelter in the basement of the theater.
Ukrainian lawmaker Lesia Vasylenko told The Associated Press that between 1,000 and 1,500 people were sheltering at the theater when it was hit by an airstrike and called the attack the deliberate “destruction of a refuge.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times