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5 weeks ago

Putin Reveals Peace Deal Demands Immediately Rejected by Ukraine

The demands reveal the entrenched stalemate in Ukraine and leaves little doubt as to why Kyiv must reject them.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 28, 2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin. — Photo by Free2014
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 28, 2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin. — Photo by Free2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his terms for starting peace talks with Ukraine, emphasizing the need for Ukrainian forces to withdraw from four east-Ukrainian provinces claimed by Russia. In a speech delivered June 14 at a meeting with the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow, Putin outlined the demands which also included the end of Western sanctions and a ban on Ukrainian NATO membership.

On the night of a "peace conference" in Switzerland to which Russia had not been invited, Putin set out maximalist conditions for a potential peace: "The conditions are very simple," Putin said, demanding that Ukrainian troops be removed from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

"As soon as they declare in Kyiv that they are ready for such a decision and begin a real withdrawal of troops from these regions, and also officially announce the abandonment of their plans to join NATO - on our side, immediately, literally at the same minute, an order will follow to cease fire and begin negotiations," Putin said according to Reuters.

The conflict in Ukraine has reached a critical stalemate, with neither side able to secure a decisive victory. Ukrainian forces, bolstered by Western arms and training, have managed to resist Russian advances so far. However, Russia's extensive fortifications and use of heavy artillery have slowed Ukraine's counteroffensives, particularly in key regions like Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut.

Despite the protracted nature of the conflict, Russia continues to invest heavily in its military, with significant increases in its defense budget for 2024. This move indicates Moscow's readiness for a long-term confrontation, reflecting Putin's belief that time and resources will eventually favor Russia.

For Ukraine, accepting Putin's terms is out of the question. President Volodymyr Zelensky has firmly rejected any concessions that would compromise Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Zelensky has reiterated that any peace deal must involve the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied territories.

Western nations face a complex challenge in responding to Putin's demands. While some advocate for a negotiated settlement to prevent further escalation, others warn that yielding to Russian terms would embolden future aggression. The West's continued military and economic support for Ukraine is seen as crucial to maintaining global stability and deterring Russia from pursuing further expansionist ambitions.

This support was solidified yesterday June 13th with a new 10-year bilateral security agreement signed by U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Zelensky. The pact aims to strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities and ensure long-term deterrence against Russian aggression. Biden emphasized, "A lasting peace for Ukraine must be underwritten by Ukraine's own ability to defend itself now, and to deter future aggression"​, adding that the U.S. is going to help ensure Ukraine can do both.  

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