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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 11, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday some progress had been made in Moscow’s talks with Ukraine, while the Kremlin said the conflict would end when the West took action to address Moscow concerns.

At a Kremlin meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said Western sanctions would not hinder Russian development and that Russia would end up stronger.

He then said Ukrainian negotiations were taking place practically every day.

“There are certain positive shifts, negotiators on our side tell me,” Putin said. “I will talk about all of this later.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba met in Turkey on Thursday in the highest-level talks since the conflict began. No breakthrough was made.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands, displaced more than 2 million people, and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States.

US intelligence agents say Russia has been surprised by the strength of Ukrainian resistance and by the severity of the economic sanctions imposed by the West.

Russia has so far shown no sign that it is changing course.

Lukashenko told Putin that both of them were from Soviet generations which had endured sanctions and that the Soviet Union had developed well.

“You are right,” Putin said. The Soviet Union lived all the time under sanctions but it developed and made colossal achievements.”

‘Let’s hope’

The Kremlin said on Friday the conflict in Ukraine would end when the West took action over Russia’s repeatedly raised concerns about the killing of civilians in eastern Ukraine and NATO enlargement eastwards.

“We need to find a resolution to these two questions. Russia formulated concrete demands to Ukraine to resolve those questions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Asked by reporters how the crisis could end, Peskov set out Russia’s position and said he believed that Ukraine was discussing Moscow’s demands with the United States and European Union countries.

“Let’s hope. That needs to be done. Then it will all end.”

Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is essential to ensure Russian security after the United States enlarged the membership of NATO up to Russia’s borders and supported pro-Western leaders in Kyiv.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence while the United States, and its European and Asian allies have condemned the Russian invasion. China has called for calm.