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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders' summit in Astana, on October 14, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

ASTANA: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday there was no need for massive new strikes on Ukraine and that Russia was not looking to destroy the country.

Putin told a news conference at the end of a summit in Kazakhstan that his call-up of Russian reservists would be over within two weeks and there were no plans for a further mobilisation.

He also repeated the Kremlin position that Russia was willing to hold talks, although he said they would require international mediation if Ukraine was willing to take part.

Taken together, Putin’s comments appeared to suggest a slight softening of his tone as the war nears the end of its eighth month, after weeks of Ukrainian advances and significant Russian defeats.

But he was speaking after a week when Russia has staged its heaviest missile attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities since the start of its attacks on Feb. 24 - an action that Putin has said was retaliation for an attack that damaged a Russian bridge to occupied Crimea.

“We do not set ourselves the task of destroying Ukraine. No, of course not,” Putin said.

He said there was “no need for massive strikes” now because most designated targets had been hit.

US warns of sanctions against those aiding Russia

The United States on Friday warned it can impose sanctions on people, countries and companies that provide ammunition to Russia or support its military-industrial complex, as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, at a gathering of officials from 32 countries to discuss sanctions on Russia, said the department will issue guidance on Friday making clear that Washington is willing and able to impose such a crackdown.

“This morning, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is issuing guidance making clear that we are willing and able to sanction people, companies, or countries that provide ammunition to Russia or support Russia’s military-industrial complex” Adeyemo said in remarks ahead of the meeting, the first such gathering on sanctions on Russia.

In addition, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security will outline actions that have been taken against Russia’s military-industrial complex and note the risks those providing material support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine face, he added.

The United States at the meeting will also warn that Russia is “expending munitions at an unsustainable rate” and turning to countries like Iran and North Korea for supplies and equipment, including rockets and artillery munitions, according to a copy of the presentation from Morgan Muir, deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, seen by Reuters.