Skip to content
Following his two-day visit to Belarus, Putin is expected in Uzbekistan on Sunday.
Following his two-day visit to Belarus, Putin is expected in Uzbekistan on Sunday.

Putin lays out terms for Ukrainian talks

Time and again, Putin has voiced his support for peace talks with Ukraine. Lately, he's added a few stipulations during a visit to his ally, Belarus. For Ukraine, these demands probably sound more like surrender. Plus, Putin has his doubts about the validity of Zelensky's presidency.

Almost three years since launching his assault on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterates his supposed openness to diplomacy – yet he refuses to return resources occupied against international legal framework. "People are talking about resuming negotiations now," Putin remarked during a trip to their neighbor Belarus, according to Interfax. He added: "Let's go back to the drawing board. But not based on one party's ideals, rather, it should be based on the current situation on the ground."

Previous rumors spread that Putin was content with a ceasefire that acknowledged the current military positions. "Putin can certainly keep fighting for as long as necessary," one of four people close to Putin told Reuters. "But Putin is also open to a truce - to halt the conflict." These private statements were shared by the three other sources who heard Putin's sentiments in a closed meeting with his advisors. Apparently, the president was frustrated by any efforts applauded by the West for preventing negotiations.

Countless times before, Putin expressed his readiness to negotiate, but then retracted those sentiments with a brief sentence in a following interview: "We aren't prepared to discuss anything based on delusional expectations or those acquired through substance abuse, but we are ready to discuss matters grounded in reality."

Ever since 2014, Russia has been waging a declared war on Ukraine and now holds a fifth of their neighboring country. Ukraine constantly points out that the removal of Russian troops will be a prerequisite for a lasting peace.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has turned down the preconditions for negotiations set by Russia. They include Russia retaining the land they've acquired since the invasion. An international summit on Ukraine is being planned for June in Switzerland, but Russia has yet to receive an invitation.

Putin questions Zelensky's authority

Post-conference, Putin also raised concerns over Zelensky's qualifications for potential peace talks. The Kremlin leader proclaimed that Zelenskyi had ceased to be Ukraine's legitimate leader. Putin declared, "We are aware that the mandate of the current head of state has expired."

The reason? Zelensky's official five-year term was intended to expire recently. However, due to the ongoing Russian invasion, Ukraine's martial law has been enforced for more than two years. According to Ukraine's constitution, Zelensky will stay in power until fresh elections can be arranged.

Recently, Baerbock, the German Foreign Minister, assured Zelensky's legal position. She shielded him from the "manipulative scheme" of Russian propaganda during a visit to Kiev. Russian government officials have repeatedly brought up the end of Zelensky's term over the last week.

Read also: