- Russia's war in Ukraine has lasted longer than President Vladimir Putin expected.
- The NYT reported that Putin had been considering a ceasefire since the early weeks of Russia's invasion.
- He renewed that interest, but only on the condition that Russia could maintain the conquered territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly signaled his readiness for peace talks since the early weeks of the Ukraine invasion. The New York Times reported. But some Western officials told the Times they were skeptical.
One of the earliest cases came just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, which was quickly seen as a botched military campaign as Ukrainian resistance proved more resilient than expected, the Times reported. But the ceasefire talks collapsed after Russia's brutal actions against civilians and soldiers in Ukraine, the report said.
U.S. officials told the Times that in the fall of 2022, after Russian forces withdrew from Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region in September, Putin again explored peace talks. However, top US officials said it was too early for talks, and the ceasefire was conditional on keeping nearly 20% of Ukraine occupied by Russia.
More recently, Putin has shown renewed interest in a ceasefire as the war nears its two-year mark, and significant progress on the front lines – on both sides – remains to be seen.
Two former senior Russian officials close to the Kremlin, along with U.S. and international officials who have been briefed on Putin's interest in peace talks, told The Times that the Russian leader has signaled that interest since at least September, with the same conditions outlined last year. fall
“He's actually willing to stop at the status quo,” a former Russian official told the Times. “He's not willing to back down a meter.”
U.S. officials told the newspaper that the ceasefire would keep Ukraine a sovereign state with Kyiv as its capital, while Russia maintains control over the occupied territory.
But it is unclear whether Ukraine would accept a ceasefire under such conditions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to recover all territory seized by Russia, and top U.S. officials told the Times that no influential Ukrainian politician was seen agreeing to those terms.
But US and Western officials remain skeptical.
“They have never honored any agreements,” Latvian President Edgars Ringevics told the Times, “and have broken them as soon as they found it convenient.”
Putin's quiet interest in peace talks through back-channel communications contrasts markedly with the message the Russian leader is sending to the public.
On December 14, in his first news conference to allow Western media access since the February invasion, Putin said Russia's goals remained the same and that there would be no ceasefire until they were achieved.
“There will be peace when we achieve our goals,” Putin said Associated Press. Victory is ours.
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