Russia’s Putin sets out conditions for peace talks with Ukraine

Russia’s Putin sets out conditions for peace talks with Ukraine
Politics

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during visit to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research on June 13, 2024 in Dubna, Russia. 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday set out the requirements for Moscow to start peace talks with Ukraine, more than two years after the Kremlin’s full-fledged invasion of its neighbor.

According to a Google-translated Telegram update from Russian state news outlet Tass, the terms include the complete withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, which Russia illegally annexed within months of commencing hostilities, in September 2022.

The Kremlin’s conditions are unlikely to receive a warm reception in Kyiv, which has repeatedly stated that it will not concede territory to Russia.

Putin said during a meeting with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry that as long as Ukraine begins a “real withdrawal of troops from these regions, and will also officially notify of the abandonment of plans to join NATO — on our part, immediately, at the same minute, an order will follow to cease fire and begin negotiations,” according to Google-translated comments carried by Tass.

He said that Moscow was committed to ensuring the “unhindered and safe withdrawal” of Ukrainian forces if Kyiv agrees to such a concession.

If the peace proposal is refused, Putin added, Moscow’s future demands will be different.

Putin’s comments contrast starkly with his Ukrainian counterpart’s peace plan. Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point proposal, outlined in November 2022, demands the restoration of the country’s “territorial integrity” under the U.N. Charter. He has also insisted that Ukraine regain the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed illegally prior to the current war, in February 2014.

CNBC has reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Previous attempts at peace

Peace frameworks have so far been doomed to fail throughout the Ukraine conflict. A 12-point plan released by Russia’s ally Beijing on the war’s one-year anniversary also gained no momentum. China is once again pushing its own alternative diplomatic plan, Reuters reports.

Putin’s Friday proposal threatens to steal the spotlight from imminent negotiations in Switzerland, where at least 90 countries and organizations are set to meet over June 15-16 at the Swiss resort of Bürgenstock for the Summit on Peace in Ukraine.

Moscow, notably, was not invited — and has in the past touted the futility of third parties attempting to negotiate a resolution to the conflict without Russia’s participation. Previous summits have failed to implement a diplomatic solution to the conflict or abate hostilities on the battlefield.

It comes as Ukraine’s allies have been stepping up support in recent weeks, both financially and militarily.

On Thursday, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations agreed in principle to issue $50 billion in loans for Kyiv that are backed by the profits generated by roughly 300 billion euros ($322 billion) of Russian central bank assets frozen by the West. European Council President Charles Michel stressed that “Russia has to pay.”

NATO is separately due to discuss further support for Ukraine during its upcoming summit of July 9-11. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expects member countries to agree a “long-term financial pledge to provide military support” for Kyiv and a “leading role” for the military alliance in providing and coordinating security assistance in the war-torn country.

Already, the U.S. and Germany have removed some restrictions on weapons they supply to Ukraine and now permit their use against targets just over the border inside Russia, exclusively for the purpose of defending Kharkiv.

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