Putin offers ceasefire if Ukraine pulls out of Moscow-occupied territories and NATO bid – Kiev’s non-starter

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed on Friday to “immediately” order a ceasefire in Ukraine and open talks if Moscow abandons plans to join NATO by 2022, beginning to withdraw troops from the four annexed regions.

Such a deal appears to be a non-starter for Kiev, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its forces from all its territories.

Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on social media that there was nothing new in Putin’s plan and that the Russian leader was only giving voice to “a set of persistent aggressors”.

“There is no innovation, no real peace proposals, no desire to end the war. But there is a desire to continue this war in new forms without paying for it. It’s a complete hoax,” wrote Podolyak on X.

Putin’s views emerged as leaders Group of seven leading industrialized nations Met in Italy and was ready to host Switzerland Many world leaders — but not from Moscow — try to map out the first steps toward peace in Ukraine this weekend. The US and Ukraine signed on this week 10 year security agreement They were hailed as a milestone in relations and denounced as “null and void” by Russian officials, including Putin.

“We will do it immediately,” Putin said of his proposals in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

In February 2022, Russia began a full-scale occupation of Ukraine. After Ukrainian forces repulsed a Russian push for the capital, much of the fighting focused on the south and east — areas Russia illegally annexed to the east and south. They do not completely control anything.

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Putin said his proposal was aimed at a “final solution” to the conflict in Ukraine, and insisted the Kremlin was “ready to start negotiations without delay”.

Among the broad demands for peace listed by the Russian leader are Ukraine’s non-nuclear status, restrictions on its military force and protection of the interests of the country’s Russian-speaking population. All of this should become part of “fundamental international agreements,” and all Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted, Putin said.

“We urge you to turn this sad page of history and start, step by step, the restoration of unity between Russia and Ukraine and Europe in general,” he said.

Putin’s comments, which represented a rare occasion when he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, were relayed to slack-jawed Foreign Ministry staff but contained no new demands. The Kremlin has previously said Kiev should recognize its territorial gains and abandon its bid to join NATO.

Putin on Friday insisted that Kyiv withdraw entirely from the four annexed regions, essentially handing them over to Moscow under their administrative jurisdiction. Russia still does not control the eponymous administrative capital of the region of Zaporozhye in the southeast, which has a pre-war population of about 700,000, and in the neighboring Kherson region, where Moscow withdrew from the largest city and capital of Kherson in November 2022.

If “Kiev and Western capitals” reject his offer, Putin said, “that is their business, their political and moral responsibility to continue the bloodshed.”

Throughout the war, the Kremlin has repeatedly broadcast its readiness for peace talks with Kiev and blamed the West for undermining its efforts to end the conflict.

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Putin went further on Friday, saying his forces never intended to attack Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, even as they approached.

“In essence, this is nothing more than a move to force the Ukrainian regime to make peace. The troops were forced to try to negotiate with the Ukrainian side and find an acceptable solution,” he said.

Moscow pulled out of Kyiv in March 2022 and described it as a gesture of goodwill as peace talks between the two began, but the withdrawal came amid fierce Ukrainian opposition that significantly slowed Russia’s battlefield advances.

That same month, Putin told a foreign official that Kyiv “does not rule out the withdrawal of troops from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and the return of occupied territories to Ukraine as long as it allows Russia to gain solid ground.” annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

He said the official planned to bring that proposal to Kiev – which Moscow “welcomed” because it generally welcomes “attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict”. But the Kremlin later annexed the two regions to Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, citing the results of fake “referendums” it held there. Putin referred to them and said, “This matter is closed forever and is no longer up for discussion.”

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