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Putin promises ‘immediate’ peace if Ukraine drops NATO bid and gives away Russian-occupied areas

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Russian president said the war in Ukraine will end if Kyiv gives up on its NATO application and withdraws troops from four regions occupied and unilaterally annexed by the Kremlin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin applauds at a ceremony during the celebration the Day of Russia at the Kremlin, 12 June 2024
Copyright Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would “immediately” order a ceasefire in Ukraine if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from four regions occupied and unilaterally annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO.

During a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow on Friday, Putin said his proposal would provide a “final resolution” to the conflict rather than “freezing it” and stressed that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay”.

“We will do it immediately,” the Russian leader said, adding that the proposal would restore “unity” between the two warring nations and Europe more broadly. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv.

Ukraine wants to join the 32-member military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all territories.

Putin’s remarks came as G7 leaders met in Italy and agreed to provide a €46 billion loan package for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also signed a 10-year security agreement with his US counterpart, Joe Biden.

Switzerland will also host world leaders this weekend — but not from Moscow — to try to map out the first steps toward peace in Ukraine.

The conference is underpinned by elements of a 10-point peace formula presented by Zelenskyy in late 2022 and aims to rally the international community and project strength against Russia.

Territorial withdrawal

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

After Ukrainian forces thwarted a Russian attempt on the capital, much of the fighting has focused on the border regions in the south and east of the country.

Russia doesn’t fully control any of the four regions it illegally annexed in 2022, but Putin insisted Kyiv should withdraw from them entirely and essentially cede them to Moscow within their administrative borders.

In Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Russia still doesn’t control the region’s namesake administrative capital. In the neighbouring Kherson region, Moscow withdrew from its biggest city and capital of the same name in November 2022.

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By Angela Skujins with AP