Moscow: In a bizarre claim, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied reports of his troops bombing Ukrainian cities and dismissed such information as fake, during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
According to a statement by Kremlin on Friday, Putin said reports about "the alleged ongoing airstrikes of Kyiv and other large cities are gross propaganda fakes."
He added that dialogue on Ukraine would be possible only if Russian demands are met.
Putin "confirmed that Russia is open to dialogue with the Ukrainian side, as well as with everyone who wants peace in Ukraine. But under the condition that all Russian demands are met," the Kremlin said.
These include the neutral and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, its "denazification", recognition of Crimea as part of Russia and the "sovereignty" of separatist territories in eastern Ukraine.
"Hope was expressed that during the planned third round of talks, the representatives of Kyiv will take a reasonable and constructive position," the Kremlin added.
Meanwhile, Putin on Friday urged the neighbouring countries not to escalate tensions. In a televised address, he said there are no bad intentions towards the neighbouring countries and Russia will continue to fulfil all obligations.
"There are no bad intentions towards our neighbours. And I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. We fulfil all our obligations and will continue to fulfil them," Putin said in televised remarks as quoted by Reuters.
He said that Russia doesn't see any need to aggravate or worsen the relations. "And all our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation," he said.
The next meeting of delegations from Russia and Ukraine is expected during the weekend, according to one of Kyiv's negotiators.