Putin ready for ceasefire, say sources - GulfToday

Putin ready for ceasefire, say sources


Vladimir Putin

The Western news agency Reuters has put out a report quoting anonymous sources – five of them to be exact – saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed willingness to negotiate a ceasefire in the two-year-and-more war with Ukraine, but Putin wants it to be settled at the present battle-lines.

It would mean that Russia would retain Crimea which it has occupied in 2014, and four other smaller republics – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and  Kherson – which were incorporated in the Russian Federation  in September 2022. But Russia has no control over the territories.

Initially, Putin was not agreeable to any talks with Ukraine saying that through his “special military operation” – a term he used to describe Russian military invasion – was to clear the “Nazis” in Kiev. Again, that was Putin’s way of describing Ukrainian nationalism.

It was true that a right-wing Ukrainian militia had fought the war on the eastern front in Ukraine in the early phase of the war. In 2023, Russia began to say that it was willing to stop the war and negotiate. And it was the turn of popular Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to say that he would not agree to any talks unless he retrieves every bit of Russian-occupied Ukrainian land, including Crimea. And given the state of the war it looked an impossibility.

But recently Ukraine too relented and agreed to peace talks arranged by Switzerland but with no direct contact with Russia. Ukraine was interested in China, a key Russian ally, to attend the talks. But Moscow responded saying that there can be no peace negotiations between the two sides if it was not involved.

If Russia is feeling the strain of the war, so is Ukraine. The US, the UK and the EU are quite vocal in their support of Ukraine, and they have even pumped in financial aid as well as arms supplies. But the help, especially in terms of weapons, is not reaching Ukraine on time and in adequate measure. This has made Ukraine militarily vulnerable against renewed Russian surge in operations. So, it is not surprising that Zelensky too is looking for an exit strategy which would save national honour and hold Ukraine together.

The Moscow sources indicated that Putin does not want to let the war go on because he might have to fall back on conscription, an unpopular move. When he announced it in 2022, Putin’s popularity ratings fell in the country, and the discontent among the young was palpable. Many of the eligible youth crossed over to neighbouring Georgia to escape being sent to the battlefront. And he is also looking for a face-saver.

The advantage that Putin is seeking through the offer of a ceasefire with his own set of conditions, according to one of the sources, is: “Putin will say that we won, that NATO attacked us and we kept our sovereignty, that we have a land corridor to Crimea, which is true.”

It is not surprising that Putin is looking for a way to end the war which is advantageous to Russia despite the fact he has not been able to force Ukraine into submission which was its initial aim. Putin wants to extricate Russia out of the military tangle. Russia had said time and again that it was willing to talk.

The latest statement on talks by Putin was on a visit to Beijing last week. But Ukraine has said that it does not trust any Russian offer of peace. This deep distrust can only be removed if the US and EU get guarantees from Russia regarding peace. And China standing as a guarantor of Russia’s promise.


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