By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH (Reuters) – Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, an Austrian government spokesperson said, in what would be the first face-to-face meeting between Putin and a European Union leader since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m going to meet Vladimir #Putin in Moscow tomorrow,” Nehammer wrote on Twitter.
“We are militarily neutral, but (have) a clear position on the Russian war of aggression against #Ukraine,” he wrote, referring to Austria’s position. “It must stop! It needs humanitarian corridors, ceasefire & full investigation of war crimes.”
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed to RIA news agency that Putin would be holding talks with Nehammer on Monday.
The planned meeting with the Russian leader follows a trip by Nehammer to Ukraine on Saturday, during which the Austrian chancellor met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Putin has been largely shunned by Western leaders since the start of the conflict, though he met Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Kremlin in early March.
Neutral Austria has been providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as helmets and body armour for civilians rather than weapons. Nehammer, a conservative, has been visibly moved by telephone conversations with Zelenskiy and says he wants to show support.
Nehammer said on Twitter he had briefed other “European partners” regarding his visit to Moscow, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan “and of course also Ukrainian president” Zelenskiy.
(This story corrects headline to “leader”, not “head of state”)
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Alex Richardson)