Putin Demands More Ukrainian Land

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President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow, demands Kyiv swiftly rejected as tantamount to surrender.

On the eve of a conference in Switzerland to which Russia has not been invited, Putin set out maximalist conditions wholly at odds with the terms demanded by Ukraine, apparently reflecting Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

He restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarisation, unchanged from the day he sent in his troops on Feb. 24, 2022, and said an end to Western sanctions must also be part of a peace deal. He also repeated his call for Ukraine’s “denazification” based on what Kyiv calls an unfounded slur against its leadership.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that Putin’s conditions were tantamount to proposing that Ukraine admit defeat and sign away its sovereignty. Reports said.

There was “no possibility to find compromise” on the basis of what Putin had proposed, he said.

The timing of the speech was clearly intended to preempt the Swiss summit, billed as a “peace conference” despite Russia’s exclusion, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy seeks a show of international support for Kyiv’s terms to end the war.

The conditions are very simple,” Putin said, listing them as the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia claimed the four regions, which its forces control only partially, as part of its own territory in 2022, an act rejected by most countries at the United Nations as illegal.

Moscow also seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.

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.

I repeat, we will do this immediately. Naturally, we will simultaneously guarantee the unhindered and safe withdrawal of Ukrainian units and formations.”

Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukrainian territory in the third year of the war. Ukraine says peace can only be based on the full withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of its territorial integrity.

 

 

 

 

Reuters/Shakirat Sadiq

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