Russian President Vladimir Putin may be open to a cease-fire in his war with Ukraine, so long as the country could still declare victory, a new report by the New York Times found.
Putin, still confident in his forces, said that Russia’s goals have not changed. In his annual year-end press conference last week, Putin warned that there would be no peace solution in Ukraine until Russia achieves its overarching goals, the “denazification” and demilitarization of Ukraine.
Putin’s message might be different now, as he has reportedly signaled he is ready to make a deal. Since September, Putin has signaled that he is open to a pause in fighting along the current lines, which is much shorter than his intention to dominate Ukraine, according to the Times who cited two former senior Russian officials.
According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and 18,500 have been injured since the start of the war nearly two years ago.
According to American officials, Putin also put out feelers for a ceasefire in the fall of 2022 after he was not happy with how much territory Russia had captured.
“Mr. Putin’s repeated interest in a cease-fire is an example of how opportunism and improvisation have defined his approach to the war behind closed doors,” the Times wrote.
The Times said they conducted dozens of interviews with Russians who have known Putin for years that shine a light on his maneuvering to avoid risks and keep his options open in the war that’s lasted longer than he thought it would.
The officials that spoke with the Times said Putin sees several reasons that make now a good moment to make a deal, particularly since the war seems stuck in a stalemate, Ukraine’s offensive has been disappointing and the onset of the Israel-Hamas war.
According to the Kremlin’s analysis, public support for the war is broad but not deep, which means most people would accept whatever Putin would deem as a victory.
Some Western officials are skeptical that Putin would only rearm and rebuild during a cease-fire.
There is no guarantee that Ukraine’s leaders would accept a deal, though the country has been struggling to finance its military amid delays in funding from both Europe and the United States.
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