July 21, 2024 | 1:02


Putin wants to negotiate on Ukraine

Putin Conference: The role of Russia, Wagner and Prigozhin in the geopolitical scenario.

Jesus Carames

May 25, 2024 | 4:03 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to stop the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognizes current battlefield lines, according to four Russian sources who spoke to Reuters. These sources indicated that he is prepared to continue fighting if kyiv and the West do not respond.

Context of the conflict and Putin's position

Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin's entourage, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he sees as Western-backed attempts to hinder the negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr's decision. Zelenskiy to rule out talks.

Putin has expressed that he can fight "as long as necessary," but he is also willing to agree to a ceasefire to freeze the war. This statement comes from a senior Russian official who has worked with Putin and is aware of high-level conversations in the Kremlin.

"Putin can fight as long as necessary, but he is also ready for a ceasefire - to freeze the war," said another of the four sources.

At a news conference in Belarus, Putin said peace talks should resume. "They should be resumed," he said, adding that negotiations should be based on "the realities on the ground" and a plan agreed upon during a previous attempt to reach an agreement in the first weeks of the war.

Ukrainian response and international concerns

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on

«Putin currently has no desire to end his aggression against Ukraine. Only the united and firm voice of the global majority can force him to choose peace over war,” Kuleba said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Putin wanted Western democracies to accept defeat.

Internal factors and military strategy of Russia

Last week's appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister was seen by some Western military and political analysts as a move to put the Russian economy on a permanent war footing in order to win a protracted conflict.

This followed sustained battlefield pressure and Russia's recent territorial advances. However, sources indicated that Putin, re-elected in March for a new six-year term, would prefer to use Russia's current momentum to put the war behind him.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the country did not want an "eternal war."

Putin believes that the gains in the war so far are enough to sell a victory to the Russian people. The war, the largest in Europe since World War II, has cost tens of thousands of lives and led to severe Western sanctions against the Russian economy.

Three sources said Putin understood that any new dramatic breakthrough would require another national mobilization, which he does not want as his popularity waned after the first mobilization in September 2022.

Implications and future perspectives

The prospect of a ceasefire or even peace talks currently appears remote.

Zelenskiy has repeated that peace on Putin's terms is unacceptable. He has vowed to recover lost territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. He signed a decree in 2022 declaring talks with Putin “impossible.”

One of the informants predicted that a deal could not be reached while Zelenskiy was in power, unless Russia circumvented him and struck a deal with Washington. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in kyiv last week that he did not believe Putin was interested in serious negotiations.

Peace summit in Switzerland

The peace summit in Switzerland in June aims to unify international opinion on how to end the war.

The talks were called at the initiative of Zelenskiy, who has said Putin should not attend. Switzerland has not invited Russia, prompting Moscow to claim that the talks are not credible without its presence. Ukraine and Switzerland want Russia's allies, including China, to attend.

In response to questions about this story, a US State Department spokesperson said any peace initiative must respect the "territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders" and described Russia as the only obstacle to peace in Ukraine.

"The Kremlin has not yet demonstrated any significant interest in ending its war, quite the contrary," the spokesman said.

Both Russia and Ukraine have also said they fear the other side will use any ceasefire to rearm. kyiv and its Western allies are banking on a $61 billion U.S. aid package and additional military aid from Europe to reverse what Zelenskiy described to Reuters this week as "one of the most difficult moments" of the large-scale war. scale.

Putin insisted that any battlefield gains in a deal are non-negotiable, according to all sources.

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