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Russia rejects Zelensky's withdrawal proposal, saying Kiev must accept 'new realities'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russia has rejected Ukraine's proposal for a pullout of Russian troops this Christmas, saying Kiev needs to accept "new realities" with regards to territories in the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine this Christmas. At a virtual meeting with leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) on Monday, he said, "The answer from Moscow will show what they really want – further confrontation with the world or finally [a] cessation of the aggression. The one who brought the war upon us has to take it away."

Responding to Zelensky, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday that withdrawing troops was "out of the question."

"The Ukrainian side needs to take into account the realities that have developed during this time," he said.

"And these realities indicate that new subjects have appeared in the Russian Federation. They appeared as a result of referendums that took place in these territories. Without taking these new realities into account, no kind of progress is possible," Peskov said.

He said Zelensky's proposal is a step toward "a continuation of hostilities."

At the G7 meeting, Zelensky also called on the West to provide his country with extra weapons.

Peskov said these demands would ensure a continuation of fighting.

Russia annexed four southern and eastern Ukrainian regions after referendums in those regions that Kiev had disallowed.

Russia held a similar referendum in Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, when 97 percent of voters purportedly favored joining the Russian state amid condemnation by Kiev and the West.

Russia's war on Ukraine started in late February, with Moscow saying initially that it was aimed at defending breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions. Later, however, the Russian military attacked all Ukrainian regions, including the capital.

Zelensky insists any negotiations toward peace should end in the restoration of Ukrainian borders, but Russia says that it will not negotiate over such territory.

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