Despite Vladimir Putin’s assertion, peace talks are unlikely to happen in the near future.
Although there is clear evidence that Vladimir Putin has made misleading statements about being willing to negotiate peace with Ukraine in recent months, he continues to insist that the West and Kyiv are rejecting the notion that he is seeking to deceive them.
TASS reported that the Russian President repeated his desire to “negotiate with everyone involved in this process about acceptable solutions” days after saying he wanted the war to end.
Russia’s relentless attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which have sought to eradicate the country’s power supply as winter sets in, are the latest in a string of assaults on its sovereignty that have lasted over a year and been masterminded by Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine and the United States dismissed his remarks as a sideshow, and the West is unlikely to see them as anything more.
Still, in light of this, Ukraine is not opposed to peace talks. On the contrary, as reported by the Associated Press on Monday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wants UN-mediated discussions to begin in February, as long as Russia is prosecuted for war crimes beforehand.
Despite the simple arithmetic remaining unchanged, many experts predicted that the conflict would be over in days or weeks, and Ukraine may now be able to win the war. As a result, any agreement that weakens Ukraine’s borders or is seen as a victory for Putin would be unacceptable to Kyiv.
Nothing in Putin’s Christmas Day comments departed from the bulk of his discourse throughout the conflict.
Despite appearing to signal a willingness to negotiate, the Russian leader refused to acknowledge Ukraine as a relevant party on Sunday. Instead, he continued to express his offer in the deceptive guise that Moscow is defending itself with what he euphemistically terms a “special military operation.“
Rather than negotiating with Ukraine, Putin has talked about dealing with the West, and this reflects his belief that Ukraine is a Western pawn with no real agency, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
The Kremlin’s conciliatory tone was quickly trumped by one of his key officials, who sent a harsh message.
Fighting in Ukraine is the first time Putin has referred to it as a ‘war.’
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Monday that Ukraine must fulfill Moscow’s demands for demilitarization and denazification in Ukrainian-controlled areas, making the same false allegation of Nazism that Moscow has relied on to justify its invasion.
According to TASS, Lavrov called for “the elimination of threats to Russian security from there, including our new territories” – a reference to four Ukrainian regions that Russia invaded and occupied after staging sham elections – or else the Russian military would take action.
“There is just one thing left to do: to fulfill them before it’s too late. Otherwise the Russian army will take matters into its own hands,” Lavrov said. “With regard to the duration of the conflict, the ball is now in the court of Washington and its regime,” he added, again referring to Ukraine as a puppet of the US.
According to Reuters, White House spokesman John Kirby said last week that Putin has “shown zero indication that he is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict.” On the contrary, he is doing everything he can on the ground and in the air to continue to inflict violence on the Ukrainian people,” Kirby said.
What are Russia’s fundamental objectives?
According to experts, the Kremlin will not likely regard peace negotiations as a veritable path out of conflict. Still, it would be to Putin’s advantage if Russia could draw the West into such discussions.
The ISW noted that President Vladimir Putin’s declaration on Dec. 25 was part of an information campaign designed to mislead the West into pushing Ukraine into making preliminary concessions. Moscow increased such efforts in December.
Economic adviser to President Zelensky, Alexander Rodnyansky, told CNN Tuesday that Putin’s remarks were probably an attempt to buy time in the conflict.
According to Rodnyansky, the blitzkrieg has gone wrong for them, and they must regroup and rebuild their troops,” warning the world from sending more military aid to Ukraine. “We must not fall into that trap.”
The Kremlin is trying to fix the problems with the campaign by buying boots and body armor for the troops.
Through the first ten months of the war, NATO has remained primarily united in supporting Ukraine’s resistance, with Western nations sending billions of dollars worth of weapons and other aid to Kyiv.
It is imperative for Putin that foreign leaders urge Zelensky to consider a treaty with Russia to weaken their support.
The West might stop providing military assistance to Kyiv if there is any momentum toward a deal. That would be a face-saving way for Putin to withdraw, as he would be seen as having returned from a costly war without significant territorial gains at home.
What does Ukraine want to say?
Western optimists are now confident that Kyiv can win the war, thanks to several decisive counter-attacks that pushed back Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine since the end of the summer.
Given the opposition of Ukraine and the West, it is not even worth considering a deal that divides its territory or rewards Putin for his invasion.
Throughout, Zelensky and his officials have said they would continue to explore the possibility of negotiations without raising hopes that a truce could be achieved.
Peace is achieved through the battlefield and negotiating table actions, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
“Every war ends in a diplomatic way.”
According to the Foreign Minister, the UN would be the best venue for those negotiations since this was not about favoring a particular country.
“This is about bringing everyone together,” he said.
In November, at the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Zelensky presented Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula to world leaders.
According to him, there is a path to nuclear security, food security, a war crimes tribunal, and a final peace agreement with Moscow. He also asked G20 leaders to use their power to ‘make Russia discontinue nuclear threats’ and implement an energy price cap to make Russia discontinue nuclear threats and abandon them.
In his speech to Congress last week, Zelensky said that US President Joe Biden supported that plan.
The Kremlin would have to make a significant concession for Putin to accept those terms. However, Zelensky has not considered giving up any Ukrainian territory nor wavered in his desire to join NATO and the European Union, and Western support remains strong. There is consequently little pressure for him to do so.
Negotiations are not Really on the Table
In light of the Ukrainian military’s recent victories and NATO’s unwavering support for Kyiv, there appears to be little chance that talks would end the current war phase.
A decisive swing on the battlefield in the New Year could change the calculus, but both sides are entrenched in what many observers will believe will become a long and grinding conflict.
His first overseas trip in ten months shows Zelensky’s desire to maintain his allies’ focus on the conflict and their support for him.
President Zelensky said during his joint press conference with Biden at the White House that he wanted peace without compromising Ukraine’s sovereignty, freedom, and territorial integrity. He also wanted payback for all of the damages inflicted by Russian aggression.
Biden and Zelensky “have the same vision for peace,” according to Biden.
Biden assured that the United States and its allies would continue to assist Ukraine militarily.
“It can succeed in the battlefield with our help, and the help of our European allies and others, so that if and when President Zelensky is ready to talk to the Russians, he will be able to succeed as well, because he will have won on the battlefield”
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