Putin Wants Ceasefire

Alas, on terms Ukraine can't possibly accept.

Reuters (“Exclusive: Putin wants Ukraine ceasefire on current frontlines“):

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, four Russian sources told Reuters, saying he is prepared to fight on if Kyiv and the West do not respond.

Three of the sources, familiar with discussions in Putin’s entourage, said the veteran Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about what he views as Western-backed attempts to stymie negotiations and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out talks.

“Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” said another of the four, a senior Russian source who has worked with Putin and has knowledge of top level conversations in the Kremlin.

He, like the others cited in this story, spoke on condition of anonymity given the matter’s sensitivity.

For this account, Reuters spoke to a total of five people who work with or have worked with Putin at a senior level in the political and business worlds. The fifth source did not comment on freezing the war at the current frontlines.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in response to a request for comment, said the Kremlin chief had repeatedly made clear Russia was open to dialogue to achieve its goals, saying the country did not want “eternal war.”

Ukraine’s foreign and defence ministries did not respond to questions.

The appointment last week of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia’s defence minister was seen by some Western military and political analysts as placing the Russian economy on a permanent war footing in order to win a protracted conflict.

It followed sustained battlefield pressure and territorial advances by Russia in recent weeks.

However, the sources said that Putin, re-elected in March for a new six-year term, would rather use Russia’s current momentum to put the war behind him. They did not directly comment on the new defence minister.

Based on their knowledge of conversations in the upper ranks of the Kremlin, two of the sources said Putin was of the view that gains in the war so far were enough to sell a victory to the Russian people.

Keeping Crimea and the territories he’s gained since the 2022 invasion would not only be sellable as a Russian victory, it would be a victory.

Freezing the conflict along current lines would leave Russia in possession of substantial chunks of four Ukrainian regions he formally incorporated into Russia in September 2022, but without full control of any of them.

Such an arrangement would fall short of the goals Moscow set for itself at the time, when it said the four of Ukraine’s regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – now belonged to it in their entirety.

Peskov said that there could be no question of handing back the four regions which were now permanently part of Russia according to its own constitution.

It would also be a humiliating defeat for Ukraine after so many dead and so much destruction. We’re nowhere near the point where Zelensky could sell that to his people.

FILED UNDER: Europe, World Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    So Putin is basically admitting he lost the war, right? Of course he’s not serious about it, it’s just a feint, but that he’d put this out there as a realistic offer shows he has limited faith in his own armies to get the real job done. Zelensky should tell him to get stuffed.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    In the war of attrition in which Russia is presently engaged with Ukraine time is not on Ukraine’s side. The questions that need to be asked are

    1) Will Ukraine be in a more favorable position 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, a year from now than they are at present? They are not in a more favorable position now than they were 6 months ago.

    2) What will be required so that they are in a more favorable position?

    If there is nothing of which the Ukrainians are capable and we are willing to do that will accomplish that, suing for peace now is the right choice however painful. Saying “whatever it takes” is blithe but unrealistic.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    A cease fire simply lets Putin reload his military for a renewed push in 18-24 months

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Ding! Ding! Ding! Sleeping Dog for the win. Ukraine and the West would have to be idiots to accept this. Putin’s word means less than nothing.

  5. drj says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    So Putin is basically admitting he lost the war, right?

    Unfortunately, no.

    It’s a move to weaken support for Ukraine that is specifically directed at people who never wanted to support Ukraine in the first place (Republicans, @Dave Schuler) so that they may have an excuse to wash their hands of the matter.

    Schuler’s assumes or pretends to assume a) that the Ukrainians are stupid; b) that a cease-fire wouldn’t benefit Russia even more than Ukraine; and c) that Putin would be happy with what he’s got now (contrary to the lessons of 2014).

    All of this is, of course, not true.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    My periodic reminder that we and Ukraine have different metrics of success. Ukraine is trying to preserve its existence. We are enjoying the damage done to Russia, which includes hollowing out the Russian army, humiliating and downgrading Russia’s Black Sea fleet, exposing the inadequacy of Russian weapons and technology, the expansion of NATO which made Kaliningrad more liability than asset, the re-arming of Poland, France and Germany, the slowing of the Russian economy and weaning Europe off Russian gas. We are also getting an excellent preview of the new ways of war, especially as relates to drones.

    This war has been so good for the US it’s one of the great foreign policy bargains of all time.

  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    Interesting that this should come out just a few weeks after the Ukraine aid package finally passed.

    From what I see, and I’ve cited my sources before, Russia is spending about 3 times as much manpower and materiel as Ukraine, and it can keep that up for roughly a year. Of course it wants a cease fire.

  8. Cheryl Rofer says:

    This is more interesting than Putin’s earlier proposals of a ceasefire. The Russian offensive hasn’t made as much progress as they had hoped, but it has made some gains. The Ukrainians are being resupplied. Putin wants to stop while he’s ahead, which suggests he’s not optimistic about future Russian gains, an evaluation a number of military experts share.

    But on the other hand, it means very little and should be ignored.

    ETA: The Ukrainians just hit a Russian early warning radar system, and it looks like the US may loosen up on allowing Ukraine to hit Russian targets with its ammunition. More Russian reasons to shut things down now.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    The contest is not just one of attrition, they are also testing the political stability of Russia and Ukraine. Russia is burning through men at a rapid clip. So far most of the casualties have been provincials, but that may lead to regional resentments against the center, and it may mean dragging men from Moscow and St. Petersburg into the meat grinder. Effects unpredictable.

    But on the matter of attrition, Russia has far more men, but on the offensive even a well-managed army might expect to lose at a rate of 3 to 1 against a well-prepared defense, which significantly reduces the Russian edge in men. And if the West stays strong, Ukraine has far superior materiel. Russia’s industrial base is a tiny fraction of what the West can bring to the fight.

    In our Civil War, the US had a big edge in both men and materiel. But because US forces were on the offensive and badly-led, and the South had the advantages of interior lines, it took more than four years to beat them down. Now imagine the South with the same deficit in men, but with an edge in materiel, and that it was receiving money and weapons from Britain and France. Lincoln would not have been re-elected, and we’d have cut a deal.

    The balance of forces is also far more on par than the Russo-Finnish war, which the Russians won, but not easily. Numbers of men is not in itself determinative. If it were, there’d be no South Korea – China had a huge numerical advantage. WW1, Germany with fewer men, but more political unity, better leadership, forced the Russians to surrender.

    Putin’s best hope is not attrition, but a Trump presidency. Trump will not hesitate to side openly with Russia, and Article 5 will be meaningless. Trump will abandon our allies just to be contrary. I also don’t believe he’d fight for Taiwan. War shifts the spotlight, and there’s no profit for Trump. No money and no attention? Trump won’t fight. With the US politically unstable, Macron is 100% right to push for a European defense force.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oe more point. The Donbas is not the prize, Crimea is the big prize, but it’s much less of a prize for the Russians than it was. Where’s the Black Sea fleet? Not in Crimea, it’s all the way over in Novorossiysk, driven out by Ukraine. Ukraine doesn’t need to pull a D-Day in Crimea, it just needs to make Crimea useless for the Russians. Take down the Kerch Bridge, keep the Russian navy hiding under its bed, and use missiles and drones to dismantle Crimea’s infrastructure and there won’t be a lot of Muscovites sunning themselves on the beaches. The Russians may hold Crimea, but it will be a liability and an expense.

  11. Kathy says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    I had a stray thought that Mad Vlad might propose NATO stop supplying Ukraine while negotiations for a permanent ceasefire are ongoing, so he’ll be in a better position to resume hostilities if the Orangefuhrer gets elected or manages to stage a better coup.

  12. TheRyGuy says:

    Hey, does anyone know of a bookie who’d be willing to take the following bet?

    “When virtually everything Michael Reynolds theorizes in this comment thread turns out to not just be wrong but almost the exact opposite of right, he’ll learn nothing and never admit his mistake.”

    I’ve got a C-note burning a hole in my pocket and want to know what odds I could get.

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    Gee, what a well-reasoned and thoughtful critique. Plumbing the very depths of the MAGA mind.

    Now, if I wanted to be a dick, I’d say raise the bet to $10,000, let’s give the money to Joyner to hold in escrow, and let him judge the outcome. Real money, that you’d really have to pony up, and a real judgment rendered by a real expert. What do you say, RyGuy?

    Here’s the thing: I suspect $100 means something to you, so you’re taking a risk, but it’s meaningless to me, so I’d be betting nothing. The easy response is the one above: I raise. Can you see how that doesn’t work for you in the end? Ever play poker?

  14. dazedandconfused says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Works both ways. Would let Ukraine re-load too. The Western war machine is taking some time to warm up, a break might serve the Ukrainians better than the Russians. Russia can not compete with that.

  15. dazedandconfused says:

    It may be it is not impossible for Zelenskyy to sell a truce to his people. He had a lot of kickback just getting full mobilization with a draft age reduced to 25 last month. Putting it before the Ukrainian people seems the only way to find out. I suspect that may be Putin’s game in making it public. Very likely this offer was floated through diplomatic channels first.

  16. Scott says:


    Biden Administration Announces New Security Assistance for Ukraine

    Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a significant new security assistance package to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This announcement is the Biden Administration’s fifty-eighth tranche of equipment to be provided from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021 using Presidential Drawdown Authorities. It is the fifth security assistance package the President has authorized since signing the national security supplemental last month, and the third package the President has using Presidential Drawdown Authorities. This Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) package, which is part of our efforts to help Ukraine repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv, has an estimated value of $275 million. It will provide Ukraine additional capabilities to meet its most urgent battlefield needs, such as: additional precision strike rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS); artillery rounds; air-launched munitions; and anti-tank weapons.

    The capabilities in this announcement include:

    Ammunition for HIMARS;
    155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
    60mm mortar rounds;
    Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
    Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
    Precision aerial munitions;
    Small arms and additional rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades;
    Demolitions munitions;
    Anti-armor mines;
    Tactical vehicles to recover equipment;
    Helmets, body armor, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment; and
    Spare parts, maintenance, and other ancillary equipment.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:


    If you want to make a bet to prove a point, lower stakes are more effective–a handshake and a public toast if the bet is in person, a dollar if online. Were Michael to be proven “the exact opposite of right,” having to right a congratulatory note here would stick in his craw much more than any 3-figure bet.

    I mean I know your point was to attempt to shit talk, but if shit talking is all you have at least he effective with it.

  18. Neil Hudelson says:


    If you want to make a bet to prove a point, lower stakes are more effective–a handshake and a public toast if the bet is in person, a dollar if online. Were Michael to be proven “the exact opposite of right,” having to give go through the trouble of giving you a dollar or write a congratulatory note here would stick in his craw much more than any 3-figure bet. And your bet shifts the battlefield of this self-initiated dick wielding contest to much firmer ground for your opponent: dick measuring via paycheck.*

    I mean I know your point was to attempt to shit talk, but if shit talking is all you have at least he effective with it.

    *Ten most common dick-measuring contests by their effectiveness:
    10. Car
    9. Paycheck
    8. Academic degree, certificate of expertise
    7. Office achieved (inclusive–public, corporate, organizational, etc)
    6. Actual dick size
    5. Bbq, meat smoking, or anything related to outdoor cooking.
    4. Splash size from a cannonball or belly flop
    3. Breakfast
    2. How much air you caught off of that bike ramp we made in the alley out of those cinder blocks and plywood that was just lying around in the garage.
    1. High sea prizes taken by your spirited but disciplined 19th century frigate crew.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Oh there’s no danger of him winning. The first thing we’d have to do is list all falsifiable statements. Given that his term was, ‘virtually everything’, many of the falsifiable statements are in fact, already shown to be true, for example:

    The balance of forces is also far more on par than the Russo-Finnish war, which the Russians won, but not easily.

    But being a MAGA he had no interest in anything but the portion that had to do with Cult Leader. That’s what he thinks he’d be betting on, but oops, there’s that ‘virtually everything.’ Even as to the one paragraph he read, he’d need Russia to go to war with NATO, and China to attack Taiwan. So, yeah, I was basically betting that the sun will rise in the East.

  20. Andy says:

    So, reading the story, sources, and what they say carefully in context, I think this is probably just a trial balloon. At most, it might be an invitation for private dialog (talks about talks that might lead to negotiations). People shouldn’t get over their skis about the potential implications of a deal that is still – at best – in the fantasy stage of development.

  21. Steve says:

    I think there is a spelling issue in the headline. Correct spelling would be Putin Wants Surrender.


  22. just nutha says:

    @Steve: Indeed!


Speak Your Mind