Vladimir Putin sets conditions for ceasefire in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has said Ukraine would need to withdraw troops from territories Russia claims to have annexed before a ceasefire can begin, a proposal Ukraine’s president called a Hitler-like “ultimatum.”

Volodymyr Zelensky has long said that Ukraine will not negotiate with Moscow until Russian forces leave all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

The Russian president also said Ukraine would have to give up joining NATO before peace talks could begin.

Putin’s statement setting out his ceasefire conditions comes as leaders from 90 countries prepare to meet in Switzerland on Saturday to discuss paths to peace in Ukraine, a summit to which Russia has not been invited.

At a meeting of Russian ambassadors in Moscow on Friday, Putin called on the Ukrainian government to withdraw from four regions partially occupied by Russia: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

He also said Ukraine would have to officially give up its efforts to join the NATO military alliance to stop the Russian advance.

Mr Putin said: “As soon as kyiv declares that it is ready for such a decision… an order to cease fire and start negotiations will immediately follow from our side, literally in the same minute.”

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called the proposal a “complete farce” and “offensive to common sense.”

Later on Friday, President Zelensky told Italian television Sky TG24: “These messages are ultimatum messages. It’s the same thing Hitler did when he said ‘give me a part of Czechoslovakia and it will end here.'”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also dismissed the Russian demands, saying: “Putin has illegally occupied sovereign Ukrainian territory.

“He is not in a position to dictate to Ukraine what it must do to achieve peace.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin’s proposal “was not made in good faith.”

Russian analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said Putin’s plan is a set of “maximalist” demands that offer no concessions, timed to devalue the peace conference before it begins.

Zelensky will attend Saturday’s summit near Lake Lucerne, where he hopes to demonstrate that he still enjoys broad international support.

The Swiss government has said the goal of the summit is “to provide a forum where world leaders discuss paths towards a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, based on international law and the UN Charter.”

Other attendees will include US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Russia was not invited and China has said it will not attend without Russia’s presence.

The peace summit comes later G7 leaders agreed to use interests from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine fight the invading Russian forces.

The G7 countries, along with the EU, froze assets worth around $325bn (£256bn), following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The assets are generating around $3 billion a year in interest.

According to the G7 plan, those $3 billion will be used to pay annual interest on a $50 billion loan for Ukrainians, obtained on international markets.

The money is not expected to arrive until the end of the year, but is seen as a longer-term solution to support the war effort and Ukraine’s economy.

On the sidelines of the G7 summit, the United States and Ukraine also signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement, hailed by kyiv as “historic.”

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