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Putin The Desperate? Russia May Want to Negotiate on Ukraine (Or Not)

Russia T-14 Armata. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Putin Keeps Insisting He’s Ready to Negotiate “With Everyone Involved” on Ukraine: Speaking to Rossiya 1 state television on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that Russia is ready to negotiate with all parties involved with the war in Ukraine.

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The comments follow months of similar claims from Russia, though the Russian president’s words this time appear to reflect growing anger at the involvement of Western countries in the conflict.

“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin said.

While the Russian leader’s comments were deliberately misleading in the sense that Russia’s idea of negotiation involves Ukraine accepting and complying with all of Russia’s demands, his suggestion that Kyiv is refusing to negotiate is true in part.

In November, reports revealed how the White House was privately encouraging Ukrainian leaders to show the world that they are willing to negotiate with Russia. The efforts came about after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated that his government would not engage in peace talks unless Putin was removed from power.

Ukraine’s position may be changing, however.

On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Associated Press that he hopes to see a “peace summit” occur within the next two months. Kuleba repeated a claim made by Vladimir Putin earlier this month when he suggested that the war will almost certainly end with negotiations.

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” Kuleba said. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

Russia returning to the negotiating table at this stage could potentially bring the conflict to an end but follows months of intense missile strikes on Ukrainian energy and civilian infrastructure.

It also follows a series of Russian strikes on the city of Kherson on Christmas eve, which injured more than 50 people and killed at least 10.

If Russia does return to the negotiating table, however, there’s no indication that Moscow’s red lines will change – even if Western countries and the United Nations are involved in the discussions.

Here’s What Russia Wants

During several rounds of discussions, Ukrainian and Russian negotiators could not come to an agreement about key issues.

Not only does Ukraine intend to maintain territories annexed by Russia this year, but President Zelenskyy remains committed to the idea of reclaiming territory annexed by Russia in 2014, using Western military equipment to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, Russia insists that not only does Crimea remain under Russian control, but Ukraine cede some territory to them as a condition for ending the invasion.

The two positions stand in stark opposition to one another and are unlikely to be resolved soon.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov offered an insight into Russia’s demands 10 months into the war.

Speaking to the Russian Tass news agency, Lavrov said that Russia still insists on the “denazification and demilitarization” of Ukraine.

However, he stopped short of explaining exactly what that would entail.

Russia’s position on the “denazification” of Ukraine has remained consistent since the beginning of the war, with Russian officials conflating the far-right views of the Azov Battalion with the views of the Ukrainian people and government as a whole.

Lavrov also said that Russia demands control over Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson – the four territories annexed in September despite Russia not having full control of the territories.

“Our proposals for the demilitarization and de-Nazification of the territories controlled by the [Ukrainian] regime, the elimination of threats to Russia’s security emanating from there, including our new lands, are well known to the enemy,” Lavrov said.

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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.