Report: Ukraine and Russia may hold talks over possible cease-fire

(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

I’m skeptical this is a sincere offer but apparently it is being discussed.


This may have started with a request from Ukrainian President Zelensky this morning: “Let’s sit down at the negotiating table and stop the death of people,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Russia seemed pretty clear that it wasn’t interested:

Russia on Friday rejected talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and made it clear that it was seeking to topple his democratically elected government, which Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said was steered by “neo-Nazis” and the West.

“We do not see the possibility of recognizing as democratic a government that persecutes and uses methods of genocide against its own people,” Mr. Lavrov said during a news conference in Moscow.

Moscow also vowed that the conflict would soon be over.

“Russia cannot allow Ukraine to become a dagger raised above us in the hands of Washington,” the head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, Sergei Naryshkin, said in a brief address aired on Russian state television.


But something must have changed because a Kremlin spokesman changed course and suggested Putin was willing to talk in Minsk.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday the Russian leader is “ready” to send a high-level delegation “for talks with a Ukrainian delegation” to Belarusian capital Minsk, which has previously hosted rounds of peace talks over the Ukraine crisis.

He said Putin’s ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, told him that he would “create the conditions” for such a summit.

Lukashenko is a thug and a Putin stooge. Volunteering to go to Minsk for talks may not be the best idea. It would not at all surprise me if Zelensky’s delegation were to get arrested once they crossed the border. But Zelensky responded to the offer and now there are apparently talks about where to hold talks.

Ukraine was and is ready to talk about cease-fire and peace, Serhiy Nykyforov, the spokesman for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Facebook, hours after Kyiv and Moscow appeared to be in a standoff about negotiations.

“We agreed to the proposal from the Russian Federation’s president,” Nykyforov said. “At these hours, the sides are holding consultations on the place and time for negotiations process”

A Putin aide had earlier suggest Belarus for talks, despite the country serving as a staging ground for the invasion.


According to this guy, who runs a foreign policy think tank, here’s what Putin is demanding:

The first point seems like a given and the last is also probably out of Ukraine’s hands. But the middle two are really asking the country to give up on any real independence. Agreeing to no weapons from the west means Putin can roll his tanks back in at any time to finish the job.

I guess we’ll see if the pressure on Putin convinces him to take a softer line or accept something more reasonable. Who knows, maybe he’s actually having some second thoughts as he faces the possibility the west will send his economy into a tailspin.

Nah, I don’t buy it either.

But something else did change today which may have gotten his attention. The EU and the US are targeting Putin and Lavrov with sanctions for the first time. Officially, Putin doesn’t have any assets in Europe (or even in Russia for that matter), but it’s widely believed he has a huge amount of money stored somewhere, maybe investments hidden by shell companies or under false names. If Europeans witness another week of Putin bombing Ukrainian civilians, those countries might actually make efforts to uncover his assets and create a problem for him and his cronies.


The simplest explanation is often the right one and in this case the simplest explanation is that Putin is just playing for time while trying to appear reasonable for the cameras both foreign and domestic. Still, the tougher the west makes things on Putin now, the more he might find it in his own interest to find an off-ramp.

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Jazz Shaw 8:30 AM | February 25, 2024