Putin offers ceasefire with conditions in Ukraine. Kiev reacts

2024-06-14 22:34:06Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday offered a ceasefire in Ukraine and the start of talks if Kiev begins withdrawing troops from the four Ukrainian regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and abandoning plans for NATO membership.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected the proposal, calling it "an ultimatum from Putin to hand over more territory."

Mr Putin said his proposal aims at a "final solution" to the conflict in Ukraine and not "freezing it", and stressed that the Kremlin is "ready to start negotiations without delay".

"We would take these steps immediately," Mr Putin said in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

These statements Mr. Putin made at a time when the leaders of the 7 most industrialized countries met in Italy and as Switzerland prepares to host many world leaders, but not from Russia, in a meeting where they will discuss the first steps towards peace in Ukraine.

Among other things, in the conditions for the establishment of peace, the Russian leader listed the demand that Kiev not have nuclear weapons, limit the military force and protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine.

All these should be part of "fundamental international agreements" and all Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted, Mr Putin said.

"We are calling to leave behind this tragic period of history and to restore, step by step, the unity between Russia and Ukraine and Europe in general," he said.

The comments marked a rare occasion in which Mr. Putin clearly laid out his terms for ending the war in Ukraine, but did not include any new demands. The Kremlin has previously said that Kiev should recognize Moscow's control over the territory and give up its bid for NATO membership.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a press conference in the framework of the G7 meeting in Savelletri, Italy, June 13, 2024

President Zelenskyy, who is in Italy for the G7 meeting, said that Putin's proposal was not a new proposal and was made in the form of an "ultimatum". "What Putin wants is to give him a part of our territories, occupied and unoccupied, talking about some regions of our country," he said.

In addition to NATO membership, Ukraine demands that Russian forces leave its territory, including Crimea, which was illegally annexed in 2014, the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity, and that Russia be held accountable for war crimes.

American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said at the NATO headquarters in Brussels that Mr. Putin "has illegally occupied the sovereign territory of Ukraine. He is not in a position to dictate to Ukraine what it should do to restore peace.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg added that "this is not a proposal for peace. This is a proposal for more aggression, more occupation, and in a way it shows that Russia's goal is to control Ukraine."

Russia does not fully control any of the four regions it illegally annexed in 2022, but Mr Putin insisted on Friday that Kiev must withdraw from them completely and essentially hand over their administrative borders to Moscow.

In Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Russia still does not control the regional center of 700,000 people, and in the neighboring Kherson region, Moscow withdrew from its largest city of the same name in November 2022.