“This is not a friendly visit. I have just arrived from Ukraine and have seen with my own eyes the immeasurable suffering caused by the Russian war of aggression,” Nehammer was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office after the meeting near Moscow. .
Nehammer is the first European leader to meet Putin face-to-face since his invasion of Ukraine. His visit divided the views of EU leaders, with some expressing skepticism about interacting with the Russian leader.
The pair talked for about 75 minutes at Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, outside Moscow, according to Nehammer’s spokesman. The talks, which the Austrian leader called “very direct, open and tough.”
“I touched on serious war crimes in Bucha and elsewhere and stressed that all those responsible for them must be held accountable,” Nehammer said in a statement. “I also told President Putin in no uncertain terms that sanctions against Russia will remain in place and will continue to drag on as long as people die in Ukraine.”
Austria is militarily neutral, but its government has joined its neighbors in condemning Putin’s invasion.
Nehammer cited “a sense of responsibility to leave no stone unturned” as his reason for seeking a meeting with Putin. On the eve of the talks, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister questioned their effectiveness, saying of the Russian leader: “I personally have no reason to believe that he is talkative.”
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky also urged Nehammer to be cautious. “Don’t be naive. Putin is the perpetrator of this terrible war crime and those atrocities, and he must be punished for this,” he said.
This is an evolving story and will be updated.