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Reuters: Putin wants ceasefire with Ukraine along current front lines

Reuters: Putin wants ceasefire with Ukraine along current front lines

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to end the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognizes the current battle lines, four Russian sources told Reuters news agency, adding that he is prepared to fight if Kiev and the west do not respond.

Three of the sources, familiar with the discussions in President Putin's circle, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration in a meeting with a small group of advisers over what he sees as Western-backed efforts to derail the negotiations and the president's decision. Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky to rule out talks.

"Putin can fight as long as he needs to, but he is also ready for a ceasefire, to 'freeze' the war," said a senior Russian source who has worked with Putin and has knowledge of high-level talks in Kremlin.

He, like the others mentioned in this material, spoke on the condition that his name not be mentioned given the sensitivity of the issue.

President Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in response to a request for comment, said the Kremlin chief had made it clear repeatedly that Russia was open to dialogue to achieve its goals, saying the country did not want "a war of eternal". Ukraine's foreign and defense ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Last week's appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister was seen by some Western military and political analysts as putting the Russian economy in a permanent state of war in order to win a protracted conflict. It followed Russian battlefield pressure and territorial advances in recent weeks.

However, the sources said President Putin, re-elected in March for a new six-year term, would be more willing to use Russia's current situation to put the war behind him. They did not directly comment on the appointment of the new Defense Minister.

Based on their knowledge of high-level Kremlin talks, two of the sources said President Putin believed the gains in the war so far were enough to sell it as "a victory for the Russian people."

Europe's biggest conflict since World War II has cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides and led to sweeping Western sanctions on the Russian economy.

Three sources said President Putin understands that any dramatic new breakthrough would require another nationwide mobilization, which he does not want, with one source who knows the Russian president saying his popularity has fallen since the mobilization. first seen in September 2022.

The mobilization scared part of the population in Russia, causing hundreds of thousands of men of draft age to flee the country. Spokesman Peskov said Russia did not need mobilization and was instead recruiting volunteer contractors into the armed forces. The chances of a ceasefire, or even peace talks, currently seem remote.

President Zelensky has repeatedly said that peace on President Putin's terms is not possible. He has vowed to regain lost territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. He signed a decree in 2022 that officially declared any talks with Putin "impossible."

One of the sources predicted that no deal could happen while President Zelensky is in power, unless Russia bypasses him and reaches a deal with Washington. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking in Kiev last week, told reporters he did not believe Putin was interested in serious negotiations./VOA


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