MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin, while addressing his generals, conveyed a steadfast commitment to retaining Russia’s gains in eastern Ukraine, stating, “We won’t give up what’s ours. If they want to negotiate, let them negotiate.”
However, behind closed doors, Putin has reportedly signaled a different stance, expressing readiness for a deal to end the war in Ukraine, according to two former senior Russian officials and international sources.
This revelation comes in the wake of Putin’s similar feelers for a cease-fire deal in the fall of 2022, as disclosed by American officials. While Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, dismissed the reports as conceptually incorrect, he acknowledged Putin’s willingness for talks. Peskov emphasized that Russia is prepared for negotiations but solely for achieving its own goals.
The shifting dynamics add complexity to the ongoing conflict, with President Joe Biden urging Republicans for increased military aid to Ukraine. Biden emphasized the broader implications, warning that a Russian victory in Ukraine could embolden attacks on NATO allies and potentially draw U.S. troops into the conflict. However, Senate Republicans recently blocked Democratic-backed legislation for additional security assistance, highlighting their focus on border policy concerns.
As tensions escalate, Putin’s dual messaging raises questions about the potential for diplomatic breakthroughs and the complex negotiations that lie ahead.