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  4. Putin vows to order 'immediate' ceasefire if Ukraine withdraws from occupied regions, renounces NATO plans

Putin vows to order 'immediate' ceasefire if Ukraine withdraws from occupied regions, renounces NATO plans

Putin said Russia would be ready for such talks "tomorrow" if Ukrainian troops withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions occupied by Russia. He also demanded that Ukraine gave up its plans to join the US-led NATO alliance.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Updated on: June 14, 2024 17:14 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Image Source : REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday promised to "immediately" order a ceasefire in Ukraine and begin peace talks if Kyiv starts withdrawing from four regions occupied by Moscow's forces and renounces its plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). He said his proposal is aimed at a “final resolution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it", stressing that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

The 71-year-old President said Russia would be ready for such talks "tomorrow" if Ukrainian troops withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions and if Ukraine gave up its plans to join NATO. "The conditions are very simple: Ukrainian troops must be completely withdrawn from the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions," he said.

"As soon as Kyiv declares that it is ready for such a decision and begins the actual withdrawal of troops from these regions, as well as officially notifies that they abandon plans to join NATO, an order to cease fire and begin negotiations will immediately follow from our side, literally at the same minute," Putin further said, expressing doubts on whether Kyiv would take actions that are not based on Western orders.

"Today we are making another concrete real peace proposal. If Kyiv and the Western capitals reject it in the same way as before, then, after all, it is their business, they take political and moral responsibility for continuing the bloodshed. Obviously, the realities on the ground, on the line of contact will continue to change not in favour of the Kyiv regime and the conditions for the start of negotiations will be different. I emphasise the main point - the essence of our proposal is not some kind of temporary ceasefire or suspension of fire, as the West wants, in order to restore losses, rearm the Kyiv regime and prepare it for a new offensive," he said.

Will Kyiv agree to Russia's demands?

Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukrainian territory in the third year of the war. Ukraine says peace can only be based on a full withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of its territorial integrity, as it begins peace talks in a weekend summit in Switzerland, which will be attended by representatives of more than 90 nations and organisations.

Putin's conditions appear to be a non-starter for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which wants to join the alliance and has demanded Russia pull back from the occupied regions. Broader demands for peace that the Russian leader listed included Ukraine's non-nuclear status, restrictions on its military force and protection the interests of the Russian-speaking population in the country. All of these should become part of “fundamental international agreements,” and all Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted, Putin said.

Regardless, Putin's remarks represented a rare occasion in which he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, but it didn't include any new demands. The Kremlin has said before that Kyiv should recognise its territorial gains and drop its bid to join NATO.

Russia doesn't fully control either of the four regions it illegally annexed in 2022, but Putin insisted Friday that Kyiv should withdraw from them entirely and essentially cede them to Moscow within their administrative borders. In Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Russia still doesn't control the region's namesake administrative capital of 700,000 people and withdrew from Kherson's biggest city in November 2022.

US-Ukraine 10-year 'historic' deal

What makes it more unlikely for Zelenskyy to accept Putin's demands is that the US and Ukraine recently reached a bilateral security agreement at the G7 Summit in Italy. Negotiators for the group have also reached an agreement on how to provide Ukraine with up to $50 billion backed by frozen Russian assets. The deal, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, aims to commit future US administrations to support Ukraine. 

The international group of wealthy democracies has been discussing ways of using the more than $260 billion in frozen Russian assets, most of which are outside the country, to help Ukraine fight Russian President Vladimir Putin's war machine. European officials have resisted confiscating the assets, citing legal and financial stability concerns, but the plan would use the interest earned on the assets to help Ukraine's war effort.

British PM Rishi Sunak, for his part, announced up to 242 million pounds ($310 million) in nonmilitary aid to Ukraine and a new round of sanctions against suppliers of munitions and other aid to Russia's military located in China, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Turkiye. Washington also sent strong signals of support, with widened sanctions against Russia to target Chinese companies that are helping its war machine.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday conveyed to Zelenskyy during a meeting that India believes in a "human-centric" approach and that the way to peace is through "dialogue and diplomacy" after the two met on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Italy's Apulia region.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Russian President Putin to visit North Korea next week, arms deal with Kim Jong Un on top agenda: Reports

 

 

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