Putin Demands Ukraine Abandon Four Regions for Peace Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Ukraine to withdraw from four eastern regions partially occupied by his forces as a condition of peace talks, a demand Kyiv dismissed as “manipulative” on the eve of a conference on the war to which Moscow hasn’t been invited.

Bloomberg
Updated14 Jun 2024, 11:43 PM IST
Putin Demands Ukraine Abandon Four Regions for Peace Talks
Putin Demands Ukraine Abandon Four Regions for Peace Talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Ukraine to withdraw from four eastern regions partially occupied by his forces as a condition of peace talks, a demand Kyiv dismissed as “manipulative” on the eve of a conference on the war to which Moscow hasn’t been invited. 

Putin said Ukrainian forces should pull out from the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of the country in return for a cease-fire by Russian troops. He also said Ukraine must give up its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in a televised speech before Foreign Ministry officials on Friday. 

Putin is seeking to “mislead the international community, undermine diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving a just peace and to split the unity of the majority of the world community,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The proposals set out a day before the Kyiv-backed conference show “Russia is afraid of genuine peace,” it said.

The Swiss-hosted summit that starts Saturday is expected to attract some 90 countries and is aimed at promoting Ukrainian demands for a Russian withdrawal from its territory. Putin’s offer amounted to a call for Ukraine to surrender its territories in return for peace talks, something Kyiv has consistently rejected since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

“As soon as they declare in Kyiv that they are ready for such a decision and begin the real withdrawal of troops from these regions, and also officially notify about the abandonment of plans to join NATO, our side will immediately, literally at the same minute, follow the order to cease fire and start negotiations,” Putin said.

The government in Kyiv has refused to negotiate with Russia until the Kremlin leaves the occupied territories, saying Moscow will re-group and attack Ukraine again if the current war is frozen.

“This is an attempt to dictate the terms for an end to the war,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of the political consultancy R.Politik. Putin’s proposals “don’t involve any concessions from Russia at all. It’s undoubtedly timed to coincide with the peace conference in Switzerland,” she said.

Putin said Ukraine must recognize the four regions and Crimea, which he annexed in 2014, as Russian territory and Kyiv’s neutral status needs to be cemented under international law. 

He also laid out a new condition for a peace deal, saying it “presupposes” the lifting of all sanctions against Russia by the US and its allies.

Putin made that demand after a summit of leaders of the Group of Seven nations agreed on a plan to tap the profits from roughly $280 billion in frozen Russian sovereign assets to provide Ukraine with about $50 billion in fresh aid. The US also slapped additional sanctions on Russia on Wednesday that forced the Moscow Exchange to halt trading in US dollars and the euro. 

The Russian leader declared the four regions to be “forever” part of Russia after announcing in September 2022 that he was annexing them, even as his forces still don’t fully control those territories. Before Putin ordered the invasion, he demanded that Ukraine abandon its ambition of joining NATO and agree to a neutral demilitarized status.

He presented the terms on Friday as a new initiative for the beginning of negotiations. 

“If Kyiv and Western capitals refuse it like they did in the past — that’s their decision,” Putin said. “It’s clear the situation on the front line will continue to change and not in the Kyiv regime’s favor.”

There are almost 700,000 Russian troops in Ukraine now, Putin said separately on Friday evening. The Russian leader previously said there were over 600,000 troops in the country at the end of January, according to media reports at the time. 

With assistance from Kateryna Chursina.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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First Published:14 Jun 2024, 11:43 PM IST
HomeNewsworldPutin Demands Ukraine Abandon Four Regions for Peace Talks

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