Vladimir Putin makes ceasefire offer but demands Ukraine concessions

Vladimir Putin makes ceasefire offer but demands Ukraine concessions

Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would end the war in Ukraine in return for sweeping land demands and an end to Ukraine’s ambition of joining Nato.

Kyiv dismissed the proposal from the Russian President as “absurd”, claiming he was “offering for Ukraine to admit defeat”.

Mr Putin set out conditions wholly at odds with the terms sought by Ukraine, including a demand that Kyiv hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow.

He also restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarisation and repeated a call for Ukraine’s “denazification”, despite no evidence of neo-Nazi activity in the country’s leadership.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters: “He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told Italy's SkyTG24 news channel: “These are ultimatum messages that are no different from messages from the past.”

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg rejected the offer, saying it was "not made in good faith".

Ukraine says that peace can only come after Russia has fully withdrawn its troops from Ukrainian territory.

Mr Putin’s comments came on the eve of a “peace conference” in Switzerland to which Russia has not been invited, where Mr Zelensky is seeking a show of international support for Kyiv’s terms to end the war.

Representatives from more than 90 nations will attend the summit, which will focus on matters such as food security and nuclear safety in Ukraine.

In Mr Putin’s speech, he demanded the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in eastern and southern Ukraine.

“As soon as they declare in Kyiv that they are ready for such a decision and begin a real withdrawal of troops from these regions, and also officially announce the abandonment of their plans to join Nato - on our side, immediately, literally at the same minute, an order will follow to cease fire and begin negotiations,” Mr Putin said.

“I repeat, we will do this immediately. Naturally, we will simultaneously guarantee the unhindered and safe withdrawal of Ukrainian units and formations.”

Russia has claimed that the four regions are part of its own territory, though the claim has been rejected by most countries in the United Nations as illegal.

Moscow also drew international condemnation after annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.