A Russian spokesman spoke about a possible ceasefire on Monday, stating that Russia told Ukraine it is prepared to halt its military operations “in a moment” if Kyiv fulfills several conditions.
Among them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, was that Ukraine cease all military action, change its constitution to enshrine military neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory after the Russian invasion of 2014, and give official recognizance to the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent nations.
Monday’s statement was the clearest Russian proposal so far regarding the terms for calling off its invasion of Ukraine, now in its twelfth day.
Russia ceasefire claims contain conditions unlikely to be met
Reuters reports that Peskov stated in a telephone interview that Ukrainian officials are aware of the conditions, “And they were told that all this can be stopped in a moment,” he added.
So far there has been no reaction from any Ukrainian government official or spokesperson.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, causing the greatest movement of peoples since WWII, has involved bombardments and sieges of major Ukrainian cities, the assault on port cities such as Mariupol and Kharkiv and the deliberate targeting of apartment buildings and other civilian structures.
Launched on Feb. 24, the Russian invasion has provoked almost universal outrage across the world, and led to punishing sanctions on Moscow.
Contrary to what some might have anticipated, however, Monday’s statement did not say that Russia was seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine, stating it was “not true” that it was demanding that the capital city of Kyiv be handed over.
“We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot,” Peskov said in Russia’s announcement of ceasefire conditions.
Regarding Ukrainian military neutrality, Peskov said: “They should make amendments to the constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc,” adding: “We have also spoken about how they should recognise that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognise that Donetsk and Lugansk are independent states. And that’s it. It will stop in a moment.”
This slate of Russian demands was issued as delegations from Russia and Ukraine readied themselves to meet today for a third round of talks.
“This is not us seizing Luhansk and Donetsk from Ukraine. Donetsk and Luhansk don’t want to be part of Ukraine. But it doesn’t mean they should be destroyed as a result,” Peskov alleged.
“For the rest. Ukraine is an independent state that will live as it wants, but under conditions of neutrality,” he stated.
He said all Russia’s demands were created and given to Ukraine as part of the first two rounds of talks between Russia and Ukraine, which took place last week.
“We hope that all this will go OK and they will react in a suitable way,” Peskov told Reuters.
Russia had been forced into taking decisive actions to force the demilitarization of Ukraine, he declared, rather than simply recognizing the independence of the breakaway regions of the Donbass.
He further alleged that the recognizance had been undertaken because of the three million Russian speakers in that region were being threatened by 100,000 Ukrainian troops.
“We couldn’t just recognise them. What were we going to do with the 100,000 army that was standing at the border of Donetsk and Lugansk that could attack at any moment. They were being brought U.S. and British weapons all the time,” he said.
However, Ukrainian officials repeatedly, emphatically denied any assertions that it had plans to mount any attacks to take back the separatist regions by military force.
The Kremlin spokesman alleged that the situation in Ukraine posed a much more meaningful threat to Russian security than was the case in 2014, when his country had also amassed 150,000 troops at the Ukraine border; at that time Russia annexed Crimea, which until then had been part of Ukraine.
“Since then the situation has worsened for us. In 2014, they began supplying weapons to Ukraine and preparing the army for NATO, bringing it in line with NATO standards,” Peskov said.
“In the end what tipped the balance was the lives of these 3 million people in Donbass. We understood they would be attacked,” he alleged, without giving any evidence.
Peskov said it was “only a matter of time” before NATO placed missiles in Ukraine, just as it had in the former Soviet satellite states of Poland and Romania.
“We just understood we could not put up with this any more. We had to act,” he declared.