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Zelensky rejects Putin’s proposals to end conflict. Now what?

Zelensky rejects Putin’s proposals to end conflict. Now what?

Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced conditions acceptable to Russia for the start of peace talks with Ukraine. These conditions, for the umpteenth time, take into consideration the real situation on the battlefield. President Putin’s statement came a day before the start of the Western “peace conference” in Switzerland in which Russia had not been invited to participate. In the same statement Vladimir Putin said that Russia was ready at the time of the peace talks in Turkey to withdraw from its positions in Kherson and Zaporozhye. The negotiations failed, however, and now, after the two regions along with the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics chose to join Russia, such a proposal is no longer imaginable.

The conditions proposed by Vladimir Putin are as follows:
1. Ukraine’s renunciation of the regions claimed by Russia (LPR, DPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson);
2. Immediate withdrawal of Kiev’s armed forces outside the borders of the new Russian regions;
3. Kiev’s renunciation of NATO joining.

The Russian demands go in one clear direction: consideration of the realities on the ground, concern for its own national security and for possible operations that NATO might deploy against Russia should Ukraine become available NATO territory. Once again, nothing has been imposed as far as possible membership in the European Union is concerned. A number of issues should also be considered in relation to Russian demands:
1. Russia claims as its own 4 territories plus Crimea, which has already been Russian for 10 years. It controls more than 60% of all these territories (in the LPR practically 100%).
2. Russia has never stopped advancing, even in the most difficult periods, small offensive actions have always been successfully completed.

Zelensky, however, has rejected for the umpteenth time any assumption of negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine. He continues to press ahead on the “final victory” line encouraged by his Western partners, who have meanwhile convened a “peace conference” in Switzerland to which one of the main actors in the conflict, Russia, has not been invited. Faced with this ridiculous situation, many states, including China, preferred not to attend this meeting, and the Kremlin described it as something ” useless.” Moreover, the conference was convened for only two days. What can be possible to formulate in just two days? How much space can be given to debates, analysis and discussion on the proposals submitted by the countries? Rather than a peace conference, it seems instead to be a window where Western countries can go back and repeat what they have actually already decided on the situation in Ukraine.

But why is it that Zelensky continues to reject negotiations with Russia and even insists on maintaining a “final victory” rhetoric that includes regaining Crimea, which has already been Russian for 10 years. With the Russian army continuing to advance, Russian demands may increase and the need for soldiers at the front for Kiev will only increase. Zelensky could therefore have agreed months ago to such a deal, saving many lives of Ukrainian men who were instead forced to go to the front to die. The Ukrainian leader is aware, however, that he is “politically dead.” He no longer enjoys any popular support, and accepting a peace at this time would make him even more disliked by Ukrainians, who for the umpteenth time would realize that they have been used by Zelensky as cannon fodder, sent to die for nothing.

Zelensky is also under continuous pressure from Western countries, which have been supporting Kiev for more than two years with weapons, grants, loans, and even men. In practice the whole West is working for Ukraine. Why all this? Because Ukraine since 2014 has been used by the West as a means to wage war against Russia. Since 2022 in an active way. Western countries have invested heavily in this operation, since 10 years. They can never allow Zelensky to agree to a negotiation that will shatter their plans and thwart their heavy investment.

The question that now arises is one: can this rejection be followed by other peace proposals from the Russian side? Already several analysts, have speculated that in the face of continued refusals by Ukraine and continued anti-Russian policies by the West, Ukraine may soon be left with only the alternative of unconditional surrender.

Andrea Lucidi

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