Russia hopes to end operation in Ukraine ‘in foreseeable future’

In this Dec 23, 2021 photo, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov moderates Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual press conference at the Manezh exhibition hall in central Moscow, Russia. Peskov said on Friday that Russia's goals behind its military operation in Ukraine are being achieved. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

MOSCOW/KYIV – Russia hopes that its special military operation in Ukraine will end "in the foreseeable future," a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday. 

The operation is continuing and Russia's goals are being achieved, while substantive work is being carried out both in the military sphere and at the negotiation table, Dmitry Peskov said at a daily briefing. 

In an interview with the Sky News on Thursday, Peskov said, "Our military are doing their best to bring an end to that operation." 

"And we do hope that in coming days, in the foreseeable future, this operation will reach its goals or will finish … by the negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian delegations.” 

Moscow and Kyiv have conducted several rounds of peace talks to seek a political settlement to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which has intensified over the past month. 

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The outcomes of these talks, as delegations from both sides have indicated, are expected to lay an important foundation for the de-escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, but key divergences have yet to be resolved.   

Russia denies missile strike in Kramatorsk

Russia on Friday said it did not launch any "rocket attack" on a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk, which local authorities said had killed at least 39 people. 

In this image made from a video published on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Telegram channel, a smoke rises after shelling at the railway station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on April 8, 2022. (UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY’S TELEGRAM CHANNEL VIA AP)

Allegations by the Ukrainian side that Russia carried out the attack are " provocation and absolutely untrue," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. 

At least 39 people were killed in the Friday attack, which targeted a railway station in Kramatorsk, said Ukrainian officials

"On April 8, the Russian armed forces did not have any firing missions in the city of Kramatorsk," it said. 

The Russian Defense Ministry's statement said that the Tochka-U tactical missile system is not operational in "the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics" or in Russia but is actively used by the Ukrainian military. 

At least 39 people, including four children, were killed Friday in the attack, which targeted a railway station in Kramatorsk town in Donetsk, spokesman for Ukraine's Security Service Artem Dekhtyarenko said earlier Friday. 

Meanwhile, head of the Donetsk military-civilian administration Pavlo Kyrylenko said at least 87 people were injured in the attack. 

Central bank lowers key rate 

The Bank of Russia on Friday decided to cut the key rate by 300 basis points to 17 percent per annum from April 11. 

"External conditions for the Russian economy are still challenging, considerably constraining economic activity. Financial stability risks are still present, but have ceased to increase for the time being, including owing to the adopted capital control measures," the bank said in a statement. 

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According to the statement, the bank holds open the prospect of further key rate reduction at its upcoming meetings, and the next rate review meeting will be held on April 29. 

Russia drastically raised the key rate from 9.5 percent to 20 percent on Feb 28 to support financial and price stability and protect the savings of citizens from depreciation, days after it launched a special military operation in Ukraine. 

The central bank decided to keep the key rate at 20 percent at the rate review meeting on March 18.