Putin: Peace if Ukraine stops NATO plans, offers up areas

President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would cease-fire and enter peace talks if Ukraine withdrew its forces from four regions claimed by Moscow.

Putin also said Kyiv would need to relinquish any ambitions of joining NATO for peace to be achieved.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, called Putin’s suggestions “offensive to common sense.”

He said the proposal was not a serious attempt to agree on peace and was irrelevant to any negotiations.

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Ukraine rejects Putin’s conditions as ‘a sham’

Putin’s remarks come on the eve of a peace conference in Switzerland to which Russia has not been invited.

“Ukrainian troops must be completely withdrawn from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Luhansk People’s Republic, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions,” Putin said.

Russia annexed the regions in September 2022.

“There is no novelty in this, no real peace proposals and no desire to end the war. But there is a desire not to pay for this war and to continue it in new formats. It’s all a complete sham,” Podolyak wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Offer comes ahead of Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland 

The Summit on Peace in Ukraine, which is being held in the Swiss village of Obbürgen this weekend, would try to map out how peace in Ukraine can be achieved.

Zelenskyy has a 10-point plan that includes the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from its internationally recognized territory, including the annexed Crimean peninsula, as a part of any peace agreement.

Speaking to Italy’s SkyTG24 news channel on the sidelines of a G7 summit, Zelenskyy said he believed Putin would not stop his
military offensive even if his ceasefire demands were met.

“These are ultimatum messages that are no different from messages from the past,” the Ukrainian leader said in remarks translated and aired in Italian via an interpreter. “He will not stop,” he added. 

Russia was not invited to the summit, and Putin dismissed the initiative on Friday.

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“What the builders of the meeting in Switzerland are proposing is just another trick to distract everybody’s attention,” the Russian president said.

While Ukraine still enjoys broad international support, its forces on the battlefield are being stretched by a new ground assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Ukraine’s allies criticize Putin’s proposal

The United States and NATO rejected Putin’s cease-fire offer.

“This is not a proposal made in good faith,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

“This is a proposal that actually means that Russia should achieve their war aims, by expecting that Ukrainians should give up significantly more land than Russia has been able to occupy so far,” he added.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called on Putin to “leave Ukrainian sovereign territory.”

“Putin has occupied, illegally occupied, sovereign Ukrainian territory. He is not in any position to dictate to Ukraine what they must do to bring about peace,” Austin said.

lo,jsi/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)