Putin willing to negotiate if Ukraine abandons NATO and withdraws from four regions

Russian president Vladimir Putin is ready to negotiate with Ukraine if its military withdraws its troops from four regions claimed by Moscow and its government renounces NATO membership. The Russian president made the announcement on Friday on the eve of this weekend's peace summit in Switzerland.

The regions in question are Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, four regions in eastern and southern Ukraine that are at least partly under Russian control. Ukraine would also have to renounce NATO membership, which it has applied for in 2022.

Once these conditions are met, "we will immediately give the order to cease fire and start negotiations," Putin told Russian foreign ministry officials. But the chances of Ukraine giving in to these demands are next to nil. Kiev has always said that its territorial integrity and sovereignty are non-negotiable.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg agrees. "It is not up to Ukraine to withdraw troops from Ukrainian territory," he said on Friday. "It is up to Russia to withdraw its troops from occupied Ukrainian territory." Defence ministers of NATO member states are currently in Brussels for a two-day meeting on the war.

Swiss peace summit

Putin's comments come on the eve of a peace summit in Switzerland hosted by Ukraine. Russia wasn't invited, and Putin sees its exclusion as a "trick to divert everyone's attention" from those who are really responsible for the conflict, namely the West and the Ukrainian government.

"Without Russia's participation and without an honest and responsible dialogue with us, it is impossible to find a peaceful solution in Ukraine and for the security of Europe in general," the Russian president said.

Putin also described the G7's plan to use frozen Russian assets to finance loans to Ukraine as "theft". "Western countries have frozen part of Russia's assets and currency reserves," Putin told Russian Foreign ministry officials. "Even disguised, theft remains theft and will not go unpunished."



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