Sources: Putin Wants a Ceasefire, but With Strings

Russian leader is said to want to keep all territories under his current control, sources tell Reuters
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2024 7:22 AM CDT
Sources: Putin Wants a Ceasefire, but With Strings
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a briefing at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday.   (Yury Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin insists that Russia is ready to keep fighting in Ukraine, but he's reportedly also amenable to "freeze the war" there—with one big condition. Russian sources tell Reuters that their leader is prepared to negotiate a ceasefire, but one recognizing that territory currently under Russian control would stay that way. Those sources say Putin thinks he can sell such a concession as a win to the Russian people, and that he'd rather avoid another national mobilization, as the last one he ordered caused his popularity to plummet. Freezing the conflict now along battlefield lines would leave Russia with "substantial chunks of four Ukrainian regions" in its possession, or about 18% of Ukraine. Asked for comment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was open to dialogue on the matter and didn't want "eternal war." More:

  • Ukraine's take: Kyiv likely won't agree to any deal in which Russia gets to keep territory it has already seized, notes the Kyiv Independent. Ukraine has its own peace plan, including a summit in Switzerland next month—"a real diplomatic track that has every chance of contributing to a just peace," National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Lytvynenko said on Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has consistently said Ukraine will take back all of its territory seized by Russia, including Crimea, and in 2022, he signed a decree saying talks with Putin were "impossible," per Reuters.

  • US take: Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he didn't think Putin was serious about wanting to negotiate peace. A US State Department rep tells Reuters that "the Kremlin has yet to demonstrate any meaningful interest in ending its war, quite the opposite," and that any peace talks must respect Ukraine's "territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders."
  • Macron weighs in: The French president similarly doesn't think Putin is at all serious about a goal of peace, specifically because the Russian leader has rejected a truce with Ukraine at the Olympics, reports the Hill. "This is a big clarification moment, because every week until now President Putin was claiming to be available for peace," Macron said in an interview that aired Thursday on CNBC. "So for everybody in the world, it's clear he is the one who decided to launch his war, and he is not ready to make peace." Zelensky also ruled out an Olympics truce.
  • White House debate: Meanwhile, citing sources involved in the discussion, the New York Times reports there's "vigorous debate" in the Biden administration over allowing Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to strike targets across the border in Russia for the first time. The sources say Blinken now supports what would be a dramatic shift in policy because Russia is attacking Kharkiv with weapons placed just over the border, knowing that Ukraine can only respond with non-US weapons.
(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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