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Russia will ‘never’ withdraw troops – Putin

Ukraine’s unrealistic demand is intended to make peace talks impossible, the Russian president has said

Ukraine’s demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops is designed to perpetuate the conflict, because that’s the only way the current Kiev government can stay in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

Putin gave a press conference in Hanoi following his meetings with the leadership of Vietnam on Thursday. Among other topics, he addressed the Ukraine conflict.

“If negotiations are linked to the withdrawal of our troops, about which the Kiev regime dreams, then this will never happen,” Putin told reporters.

“Because the Kiev regime does not want to relinquish power, does not want to hold normal elections according to the Ukrainian constitution, they will forever drag out the ceasefire talks,” the Russian president added. “This means that Kiev has an interest in our troops remaining there, because they don’t want to hold elections.”

As for attempts to “beat back” Russian troops from Kharkov, Putin said that Kiev’s orders to get a victory on the battlefield “at all costs” will once again cost Ukraine dearly. Kharkov, he said, was a tactical operation, which Ukraine is trying to describe as strategic.

When asked about the Western rejection of the peace terms he offered Ukraine last week, Putin said that it was true to form.

“I expected just such a reaction, at first,” he said. “What happens later, time will tell. It all depends on how the situation develops on the ground.”

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FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky addresses the German parliament.
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Russia has always been willing to negotiate, while Ukraine and its Western backers sabotaged the Minsk process and the Istanbul talks, Putin said, noting that the terms he outlined will not be valid forever.

According to the Russian president, Ukraine has to recognize Russian sovereignty over the entire territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, “as defined by their administrative borders at the time they joined Ukraine [in August 1991].” Kiev needs to withdraw its military from these regions and inform Moscow in writing that it no longer plans to join NATO before any ceasefire talks can begin, Putin said last Friday.

Vladimir Zelensky has denounced the idea as an “ultimatum,” insisting that the only way to end the conflict is based on his “peace formula” amounting to a Russian surrender.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that Putin’s offer was not “made in good faith,” and would cost Kiev “significantly more land,” while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called it a “classic land grab” and an attempt to influence the peace conference in Switzerland.

June 20, 2024 at 11:26PM

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