Putin demands that Ukraine surrender four regions to stop war

Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Friday that Ukraine surrender four southeastern regions that Russian troops partly occupy and renounce plans to join NATO as conditions for Russia to “immediately” stop hostilities and start negotiations to end the war.

Putin’s demands would amount to capitulation by Ukraine and the loss of more than one-fifth of Ukraine’s sovereign territory - including Crimea, which Russia invaded and illegally annexed in 2014.

The Russian leader’s remarks appeared designed to get ahead of an international “peace” conference organized by Ukraine in Switzerland this weekend. President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to reiterate his call for Russia’s complete withdrawal of military forces and the end of Moscow’s illegal occupation of Ukraine.

The Russian leader’s broader demands included cementing Ukraine’s “neutral, nonaligned, nonnuclear status” and lifting all Western sanctions against Russia. Putin also doubled down on the ill-defined goals of “denazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine, aims that he used as pretexts for the invasion in February 2022, essentially signaling that his proposed deal envisions a de facto unconditional surrender of Ukraine.

Putin has repeatedly and falsely insisted that Russia is fighting to oust Nazis from Ukraine and that Russia was forced to invade because it was under threat from NATO powers.

“Today we are making another concrete, real peace proposal,” Putin said, addressing Russia’s top diplomats in a televised meeting. “If Kyiv and the Western capitals refuse it, as before, then in the end, that’s their business and their political and moral responsibility for the continuation of bloodshed.”

Zelensky has stated repeatedly that Ukraine will not surrender sovereign territory, and he has called for Putin and Russia to be held legally accountable for the crime of aggression.


In a recent survey, more than 90 Ukrainians said they believe Russia wants to enter peace negotiations to give Moscow time to prepare another attack.

Putin, however, insisted that Russia is open to a deal.

“The essence of our proposal is not some kind of temporary truce or suspension of fire, as the West would want it to restore losses, rearm the Kyiv regime, prepare it for a new offensive,” he said. “I repeat, we are not talking about freezing the conflict but about ending it.”

Putin’s comments marked a rare occasion in which he explicitly set out conditions for ending the war in Ukraine. Since the start of the invasion, his goals often appeared to shift drastically, especially after it became clear Moscow had overestimated its ability to carry out a swift and decisive attack.

Still, Putin’s hard line and maximalist stance reflect the Russian leader’s confidence after recent advances on the battlefield. Moscow in recent months has been emboldened by fractures in Western support for Ukraine, and Putin seems intent on capturing as much territory as possible ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November and the prospect of negotiating a deal with Donald Trump.

Independent analysts said Putin offered no compromises or concessions on Russia’s part.

“This is not a peace plan but a series of maximalist demands directed at the West and Ukraine in exchange for ending hostilities,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of R. Politik, a Russian political consultancy, now based in France. “Moscow offers no concessions; there is no scope for compromise.”

The list of demands does not represent anything fundamentally new, as Putin previously stated that Russia would never voluntarily give up territory it claims to have annexed in the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

Russia hardly controls all of the territory that Putin has claimed to annex in violation of international law - meaning a Ukrainian surrender on Putin’s terms would cede Russia even more territory that in now occupies.

Russia was never able to capture Zaporizhzhia city, the regional capital, and its troops were forced to withdraw from Kherson city, capital of the Kherson region, in late 2022.

Putin’s speech was timed to preempt the Swiss-hosted Ukraine peace summit that is expected to be attended by officials from some 90 nations.

Russia was not invited, and the Kremlin repeatedly has dismissed the event as pointless as a result, but Stanovaya said Moscow was actually concerned about losing ground in international opinion. “Moscow views the Swiss conference as an escalating action against Russia, an effort to solidify an anti-Russian stance globally, and the Kremlin is determined to thwart this,” she said.