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Putin Ready to Freeze War on Current Battlefield Lines – Reuters

Vladimir Putin with military officers.

President Vladimir Putin is seeking to negotiate a ceasefire deal with Ukraine that recognizes the current battlefield lines, Reuters reported Friday, citing several anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

Reports about Putin’s alleged interest in seeking some kind of truce agreement have circulated for months, but the latest comes as Moscow wages a new offensive against northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region — which has led to the evacuation of some 11,000 Ukrainian civilians from the impacted areas.

“Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire — to freeze the war,” a Russian source who has worked with Putin and has knowledge of insider talks was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Another source suggested that a ceasefire deal recognizing current battlefield lines could allow the Kremlin chief to tell Russians: “We won… NATO attacked us and we kept our sovereignty… we have a land corridor to Crimea.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that Putin had repeatedly made clear Moscow was open to dialogue and did not want an “eternal war.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, has rejected any peace agreement on Putin’s terms and vows to reclaim territories currently occupied by Russian forces — including the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Reporting by Reuters indicates that Putin would rather use Russia’s current momentum on the front lines to “put the war behind him” and seek talks directly with the United States, thereby bypassing Zelensky. 

However, the Russian leader remains frustrated over what he sees as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations, according to a source cited by Reuters. Domestically, Putin is concerned that a protracted war would force him to announce a second highly unpopular mobilization drive, sources said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on a visit to Kyiv last week that he did not believe Putin was interested in serious negotiations.

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