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'Russia cannot be beaten, our resources are enormous', Putin's top diplomat in UK tells Sky News

Vladimir Putin's ambassador to the UK says the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which Russian forces razed to the ground, is now "beautiful" and "rebuilt".

In a wide-ranging interview with Sky News' Yalda Hakim, Andrei Kelin also said Moscow has "no interest in Poland, Latvia, Estonia or any other countries" after NATO warned of future Russian invasions in Europe.

When asked about accusations of human rights abuses in Mariupol, Mr Kelin said: "Go to Mariupol, now look at it, it's a... totally rebuilt city... it is amazing how beautiful it is.

"Not every building has been restored right now, but a lot of effort has been done."

He continued: "People are returning to Mariupol, it is becoming a beautiful city."

Asked why the port city had needed to be destroyed, he said: "[The Ukrainians] could have surrendered earlier than that, they could have surrendered Mariupol much earlier rather than trying to make a fighting place of it."

The siege of Mariupol by President Putin's forces started shortly after the invasion began in February 2022 and ended in May that year when Russia declared victory, with the last Ukrainian fighters defending the Azovstal steel plant surrendering.

On NATO's claim about Russian plans to invade other countries in Europe, Mr Kelin said: "There is no interest in Poland or any other Baltic countries and we fully understand that any escalation beyond Ukraine will bring a world conflict with the destruction of everything... we cannot support this."

The remarks come nearly two years after Russian forces entered Ukraine despite Mr Putin saying he had no plans to invade the neighbouring country.

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On the war in Ukraine, Mr Kelin said: "It was a grave mistake by Western leaders to believe that Ukraine with Western assistance in money and weapons can prevail. Russia cannot be beaten at all."

He continued: "Compared with Ukraine, our political situation is stable, our economy is developing pretty quickly, our resources are enormous."

Mr Kelin also described the withdrawal of Russian tanks from Kyiv in the opening months of the war as a "gesture of goodwill" rather than a defeat, adding that the aim was to "stretch Ukraine's forces" so Moscow could achieve its goals by "political means rather than military means".

Asked about a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies that Russia has lost more than 3,000 battle tanks in its fighting against Ukraine, Mr Kelin insisted Moscow has "sufficient capacity" for its war effort.

The ambassador was also asked about reports Russia is receiving ballistic missiles and artillery from North Korea - an arrangement that would be in violation of UN sanctions Moscow itself has supported.

Mr Kelin insisted there was "no proof" of such an arrangement with Kim Jong Un's regime.

The remark comes after Mr Putin gave Mr Kim a letter thanking him for his support for what the Russian leader calls the "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Mr Kelin told Sky News that Russia is merely "establishing a new cooperation" with North Korea.

The ambassador was also asked whether he would prefer Donald Trump to win the US presidential election over Joe Biden later this year - with Mr Kelin refusing to support one candidate over the other.

However, he praised Mr Trump for talking about the "end of the war", claiming other leaders such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak merely talk about the "continuation" of the conflict by agreeing to offer support to Ukraine.

The former US president has claimed he would be able to end the war in 24 hours if he enters the White House for a second time.

Mr Trump has also been criticised by NATO and US President Joe Biden after he said he would let Russia "do whatever the hell they want" to members of the alliance that don't pay enough for defence.

Mr Biden said on Tuesday: "Can you imagine, a former president of the US saying that? The whole world heard it. The worst thing is he means it. No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator...For God's sake, it's dumb, it's shameful, it's dangerous, it's un-American."

NATO has said the remarks put "American and European soldiers at increased risk".

Asked if Mr Putin might be "tempted" to invade a NATO country after the presidential hopeful's remarks, Mr Kelin says he believes Mr Trump's comments were a "joke".