Ukraine rejects Putin's ceasefire proposal of ceding land on eve of peace summit

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Ukraine rejected a Russian ceasefire proposal that would require Kyiv to hand over territory to Moscow and drop its NATO membership goal, blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin for trying to cast himself as a peacemaker. 

“It is absurd for Putin, who planned, prepared, and executed, together with his accomplices, the largest armed aggression in Europe since the Second World War, to present himself as a peacemaker and to put forward options for ending the war he started that undermine the foundations of the international legal order and the UN Charter,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement.

“Russia’s plans are not for peace, but for the continuation of the war, the occupation of Ukraine, the destruction of the Ukrainian people, and further aggression in Europe,” the statement added. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels, that Putin is “not in any position to dictate to Ukraine what they must do to bring about peace.” 

Putin made this proposal on the eve of a Global Peace Summit in Switzerland, where nations are gathering to discuss a future peace plan in Ukraine this weekend. Switzerland will host 90 delegations and international organizations like the U.N. will also attend. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently made a trip to Asian countries to try and rally participation. 

Moscow was not invited and will not attend this summit. Ukraine did not want Russia involved in the conference, and the Swiss agreed. However, Switzerland insisted that Russia must be involved at some point in the peace process. 

In a statement to Russian newspaper Izvestia, the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the peace summit is futile without Russia’s attendance. 

“By throwing such signals into the information space on the eve of the inaugural Global Peace Summit in Switzerland, Putin pursues only one goal: to prevent leaders and countries from participating in this summit. The fact that Putin’s statements appeared just one day before the summit is evidence that Russia is afraid of true peace,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry wrote in its statement.  

Under the Russian proposal, Ukraine would have to cede the entire territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in eastern and southern Ukraine. Russia claimed the four regions in 2022, but most countries have rejected the Russian claim as illegal. 

Russia does not have complete control of these regions currently. Russia also annexed Crimea in 2014. 

Russia controls about a fifth of all Ukrainian territory in the third year of the conflict, and Ukraine has continued to insist that there is no possibility of peace until Russia fully withdraws from Ukrainian territory. 

Putin’s proposal reflects an increasing confidence that Russia can impose terms given the country’s gradual advance into Ukraine in recent months. During his announcement of the peace proposal, Putin warned that Kyiv’s military situation would worsen if it rejected the offer. 

“Today we are making another concrete, real peace proposal. If in Kyiv and in the Western capitals they refuse it as before, then, in the end, it is their business, their political and moral responsibility for the continuation of bloodshed,” Putin said.

Putin’s statement comes as the U.S. hits Russia with more sanctions and announces a 10-year security pack with Ukraine. The U.S. also reached a deal with its Group of Seven allies to use interest on Russian assets frozen in the West to back a $50 billion loan to Kyiv. 

In May, Congress passed a Ukraine aid bill after months of delay and warnings from Ukraine that the delays were making it more difficult for the country to fight against Russia’s aggression.

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