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Putin is not interested in peace talks with Ukraine, all he wants is destruction - ISW

ISW assessed Russia's "desire" for peace and named Putin's goal

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin remains uninterested in meaningful negotiations to end the war against Ukraine and in any peace agreement. He aims to achieve the stated goals of the invasion, which are the complete "destruction of the independent Ukrainian state" and "enslavement of the Ukrainian people."

This was pointed out by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). They emphasized that this is exactly the Kremlin's rhetoric repeated by Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov on May 25.

In particular, in an interview with Newsweek on May 25, the propagandist categorically rejected the legitimacy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and outlined Russia's maximalist conditions for peace talks. He said that Western statements about Russia not wanting to talk with Ukraine are "a deliberate attempt to distort reality." According to him, any Russian-Ukrainian peace agreement must take into account the situation on the battlefield and be signed by a "legitimate" Ukrainian leader, and Zelenskyy is allegedly not such a leader.

"The Ukrainian constitution allows the incumbent president to postpone elections and remain in office after the expiration of his term during martial law, which is currently in effect in Ukraine due to the full-scale Russian invasion. Thus, the attention of Russian officials to Zelenskyy's presidential term is the Kremlin's information operation to discredit him and present any pro-Western Ukrainian government as illegitimate," ISW explained.

Antonov also called the upcoming Peace Summit in Switzerland meaningless and part of an alleged "Western effort to legitimize Zelenskyy's presidency." He even tried to threaten Ukraine that it would lose many more territories if the US continued to ignore the Kremlin's "peace proposals," emphasizing the latter's strong belief that Russia could undermine Ukraine's interests and sovereignty by negotiating with the West.

The Russian ambassador hinted that Moscow would reject any peace deal that are based on the retreat or withdrawal of Russian troops from any temporarily occupied part of Ukraine, including, presumably, the recently seized areas in the northern Kharkiv region. He claimed that the Russian constitution prohibits the external division of Russian territory and that the "new subjects of the federation" (i.e., the illegally annexed and occupied territories of Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions) are now "part of Russia's clearly defined border" and "cannot, should not" return to Ukrainian control.

According to analysts, such statements by the Russian mean that the Russian authorities have clearly defined the boundaries of the illegally seized Ukrainian territory. However, they present contradictory estimates of its size. It is considered unlikely that the Kremlin has taken further steps to define the borders of the Ukrainian territory occupied since early 2022, and it is unclear how it envisions the previously and recently occupied territories of Kharkiv region fitting within these borders.

"Official Russian statements continue to support ISW's assessment that Putin remains uninterested in meaningful negotiations and any peace agreement that would prevent him from achieving the ultimate goal - the complete destruction of an independent Ukrainian state and the enslavement of the Ukrainian people," the analysts said.

As reported, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected the possibility of a temporary ceasefire at the front to hold talks with Russia. He also emphasized that Ukraine already has experience in Russian lies because the aggressor country is led by people who want to take lives and destroy cities.

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