Putin is ready to end the war in Ukraine, Russian sources claim

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to end the war in Ukraine and agree to a ceasefire on existing battle lines, but will continue fighting if Kiev and the West do not accept it, four Russian sources told Reuters. Three sources familiar with the talks in Putin's circle said he is frustrated that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Western countries are not agreeing to negotiations.

-Putin can fight as long as necessary, but he is also ready for a cease-fire - freezing the war - said a senior Russian source who worked with Putin and has knowledge of the talks at the highest levels in the Kremlin.

He, like other sources mentioned in this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

For this report, Reuters spoke to a total of five people who work or have worked with Putin at high levels in the political and business world. The fifth source did not comment on the freezing of the war on the current front lines.

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

The appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister last week is preparing Russia's economy for a protracted war, according to some Western military and political analysts.

But sources say Putin prefers to use Russia's momentum to end the war. They did not comment directly on the new defense minister. Based on their knowledge of discussions in the highest circles of the Kremlin, two sources said that Putin believes that the successes of the war so far are enough to declare victory to the Russian people.

Three sources said Putin understands that any major progress will require another mobilization, which he does not want.

The possibility of a ceasefire or even peace talks seems remote at the moment. Zelensky repeatedly states that peace under Putin's terms is out of the question. He has vowed to return lost territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. He signed a decree in 2022 formally declaring negotiations with Putin impossible.

One of the sources predicts that no deal can be reached while Zelensky is in power, unless Russia bypasses him and reaches a deal with Washington. However, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, speaking in Kiev last week, told reporters he did not believe Putin was interested in serious negotiations.

Ukraine is preparing for talks next month, in Switzerland, which has offered to host, in order to unite international opinion on how to end the war. The talks were convened at the initiative of Zelensky, who said that Putin should not attend. Switzerland did not invite Russia.

Moscow has said that the negotiations are not credible without its presence. Ukraine and Switzerland want Russia's allies, including China, to attend.

In response to questions about the Reuters story, a US State Department spokesman said any peace initiative must respect "the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders" and described Russia as the only obstacle to peace in Ukraine.

- The Kremlin has not yet shown significant interest in ending the war, on the contrary - said the spokesman.


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