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Zelensky responds to Putin’s peace offer

The Ukrainian leader has rejected Russia’s terms for ending the conflict

FILE PHOTO: . ©  Kristy Sparow / Getty Images

The terms Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined for ending the conflict are an “ultimatum” to Ukraine and as such unacceptable, Vladimir Zelensky has said.

Speaking at a meeting with senior Russian Foreign Ministry officials on Friday, Putin said that Kiev would have to cede all the territory of four regions that chose to join Russia and guarantee it would never join NATO before peace talks could begin.

“What can I say? These messages are ultimatum messages, they are nothing different than other ultimatums that he has made before,” Zelensky told the TV network Sky TG24 while attending the G7 meeting in the south of Italy.

“He wants us to give up part of our occupied territories, but he also wants the unoccupied ones. He talks about regions of our country, and he won’t stop,” Zelensky claimed. 

Zelensky’s characterization of Putin’s offer as an ultimatum was dismissed as “a wrong understanding, definitely,” according to Kremlin spokesman on Friday.

Read more Putin names conditions for Ukraine peace talks

“This is a comprehensive, very deep and constructive proposal,” Putin’s press secretary told Izvestia. If the terms seem harsher than those Moscow proposed in the spring of 2022, he explained, that’s because “a different situation has arisen,” with four regions choosing to become part of Russia. 

Residents of Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions as well as the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics voted overwhelmingly in September 2022 to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Kiev and its Western backers have denounced the vote as “rigged” and a “sham,” just as they refused to recognize Crimea’s return in 2014.

Peskov reminded Izvestia that Ukraine received very generous peace terms in March 2022, but rejected them “on orders from the British.” Ukrainian media and officials have confirmed that Boris Johnson, UK prime minister at the time, told them they should not accept any deal with Russia.

Announcing the military operation against the government in Kiev, in February 2022, Putin said that Moscow intended to achieve the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine and secure guarantees that Kiev would never join NATO or any other anti-Russian military bloc.

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