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NYT: Putin open to ceasefire if Russia keeps occupied territories

by The Kyiv Independent news desk December 23, 2023 5:40 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) leaves the hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace as officers of the Presidential Regiment (R) look on during an award ceremony marking the Heroes of Russia Day on Dec. 8 in Moscow. Putin said after the ceremony that he would run for president again in the 2024 election. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been reportedly signaling behind closed doors that Russia would be open to a ceasefire along the current frontline, the New York Times reported based on its sources.

Putin's sought ceasefire would mean Russia would keep the territories it illegally occupies in Ukraine, where the population is subject to abductions and summary executions.

“He really is willing to stop at the current positions,” a former senior Russian official told The New York Times.  “He’s not willing to retreat one meter,” the former official added.

The New York Times wrote that some American officials say that Putin's alleged willingness to end the war, that cost the lives of tens of thousands, could be an attempt to influence opinions and "does not reflect genuine willingness" to end the war.

Ukraine laid out its 10-point "peace formula" in November 2022. One of the key points as a precondition for starting peace talks is the full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, including the regions illegally annexed by Russia in 2022.

Russian officials have previously reiterated that this would be considered a nonstarter for any negotiations.

According to the New York Times article, Putin also reportedly sent out feelers for a ceasefire deal in the fall of 2022 after Ukrainian forces liberated Kharkiv Oblast, according to American officials, indicating that he was satisfied with Russia’s captured territory and ready for an armistice.

The signals came through multiple channels, including via foreign governments with ties to both the U.S. and Russia. Unofficial Russian emissaries have reportedly spoken to interlocutors about the contours of a potential deal.

“Putin and the Russian army, they don’t want to stretch their capacity further,” an undisclosed international official told the New York Times.

Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said Russia was ready for talks, but only for “the achievement of its own goals.”

There is no reason to start peace negotiations with Ukraine at this moment, Peskov earlier said to reporters on Dec. 20.

The prospect of peace negotiations, including exchanging territory for peace or other significant concessions, is widely unpopular among the Ukrainian population.

A poll released in December 2023 found that 74% of Ukrainians were against such territorial concessions with Russia in exchange for peace.

Ukrainian and Western leaders have also repeatedly said that they do not believe Russia is interested in good-faith peace negotiations.

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