Putin states Russian conditions for Ukraine peace talks

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MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would cease fire and enter peace talks if Ukraine dropped its NATO ambitions and withdrew its forces from four Ukrainian regions claimed by Moscow.
Putin said Russia was ready to guarantee the safe withdrawal of Ukrainian units in order to enable this to happen.
He was speaking on the eve of a summit in Switzerland where more than 90 countries and organizations are due to discuss a possible path toward peace in Ukraine. Russia has not been invited and says the gathering is a waste of time.
Russia controls nearly a fifth of Ukrainian territory in the third year of the war, and Ukraine says peace can only be based on a full withdrawal of Russian forces and the restoration of its territorial integrity.

President Vladimir Putin also said that the West’s seizure of Russian sovereign assets was theft and would not go unpunished.
Putin, speaking at a meeting with Foreign Ministry officials, said the way the West had treated Moscow showed that “anyone” could be next and fall victim to a similar Western asset freeze.
Putin spoke a day after the leaders of the Group of Seven major democracies agreed on an outline deal to provide $50 billion of loans for Ukraine using interest from Russian sovereign assets frozen after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in 2022 in what it called a special military operation.

US Vice President Kamala Harris, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Germany, Italy, Britain, Canada and Japan are among those set to attend the June 15-16 meeting at the Swiss mountaintop resort of Buergenstock.
India, which has helped Moscow survive the shock of economic sanctions, is expected to send a delegation. Turkiye and Hungary, which similarly maintain cordial ties with Russia, will be represented by their foreign ministers.But despite months of intense Ukrainian lobbying, some others will not be there, most notably China, a key consumer of Russian oil and supplier of goods that help Moscow maintain its manufacturing base.“This meeting is already a result,” Zelensky said in Berlin on Tuesday, while also acknowledging the challenge of maintaining international support as the war, now well into its third year, grinds on.
“Uniting countries who are partners and non-partners is a difficult mission in itself for Ukraine, when the war is not in its first month,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the summit with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman but it was not immediately clear whether the kingdom would send a representative.
Ulrich Schmid, a political scientist and Eastern Europe expert at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, called the summit “a mixed bag,” given the show of support from some quarters and China’s absence.
“Then the question arises: is peace actually doable?” Schmid added. “As long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is in power… it will be difficult.”
Around 90 states and organizations have confirmed their participation in a summit in Switzerland on June 15-16 that aims to create a pathway for peace in Ukraine.
Here is an overview of the major players attending the talks at the Buergenstock resort outside the city of Lucerne, as well as some notable absentees, including Russia and China.

Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, has described the idea of a summit to which it is not invited as “futile.”
Moscow casts its “special military operation” in Ukraine as part of a broader struggle with the West, which it says wants to bring Russia to its knees. Kyiv and the West say this is nonsense and accuse Russia of waging an illegal war of conquest.
The idea of a summit was originally floated after Zelensky presented a 10-point peace plan in late 2022.
Since then there has been a series of preparatory meetings.
The proposal had appeared to be gaining some traction, with China and some major countries from the “Global South” signalling interest at a meeting in Saudi Arabia last August.
However, the war in Gaza has sapped momentum and Moscow has sought to undermine the summit’s validity.
Meanwhile, China, along with Brazil, is pushing a separate peace plan for Ukraine that calls for the participation of both warring parties. Moscow has previously voiced its support for China’s efforts to end the conflict.

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