• Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Putin demands Ukrainian troop withdrawal in exchange for peace

Putin demands Ukrainian troop withdrawal in exchange for peace

Moscow, 14 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) - Ahead of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland at the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the territories annexed by his country is a prerequisite for any settlement of the ongoing war.

If Ukraine also renounces membership of NATO, Russia would be prepared to cease fire and enter negotiations immediately, Putin said during a visit to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

His speech was clearly aimed at the current G7 summit in Italy and the Ukraine event opening on Saturday in the Swiss mountain hotel resort of Bürgenstock.

The affiliation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson to Russia is no longer in question, Putin said.

Ukraine should withdraw its army from the parts of these regions that it still controls, he added.

The Kremlin leader said he was stating Russia's minimum demands in order not to freeze the conflict but to resolve it once and for all.

At the same time, Putin repeated the demands he made when he ordered the invasion of the neighbouring country in February 2022: The creation of a neutral, non-aligned and nuclear-free Ukraine.

The country should also be disarmed and "denazified," said Putin, using a term widely interpreted in the West as meaning the installment of a Russia-approved leadership in Kiev.

Russia currently occupies around a fifth of Ukraine's territory, including the Crimean Peninsula, which it illegally annexed in 2014.

Ukraine has so far adhered to its stated goal of retaking the occupied territory, including Crimea. President Volodymyr Zelensky is also calling for the prosecution of Russian war crimes and Russian reparations for the destruction caused.

The conference in Switzerland was only intended to distract attention from the real causes of the conflict, namely the policies of the West, Putin said.

"The West is ignoring our interests," he told Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other top Russian diplomats, twice explaining how he believed the war had arisen, starting with the pro-European Maidan protests in Kiev in 2013.

The Swiss conference on Saturday and Sunday is primarily intended to mobilize international support for Ukraine - including from countries that are friendly to Russia.
Russia's participation in the dialogue process is only planned as a second step.

So far, over 90 states have confirmed their participation in the event, most of them at head of state or government level. Around half are from Europe and the other half from the rest of the world.

Photo: EPA