Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear to want a ceasefire in Ukraine even if such a move could help his faltering war effort, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Friday.
In its daily assessment, the U.S.-based think tank said that Russia would “benefit” from a temporary agreement that could lead to a pause in fighting. This would allow Moscow “to strengthen the Russian Armed Forces for future military operations in pursuit of maximalist goals in Ukraine.”
Putin’s forces have suffered significant setbacks in its war with Ukraine, most recently withdrawing from the key city of Kherson. Meanwhile, analysts have expressed doubt that Moscow’s botched partial mobilization efforts aimed at boosting dwindling troop numbers will deliver any short-term advantage to Putin.
Despite the ISW’s assessment that a pause could work in his favor, Putin “has shown little interest in such a ceasefire,” as Moscow’s continued demands were “tantamount to full Western surrender,” which showed the Russian leader’s goal was “pursuing military victory.”
The ISW also said on Friday that Russia was trying to take advantage of a desire among Western countries for negotiations “to create a dynamic in which Western officials feel pressed to make preemptive concessions to lure Russia to the negotiating table.”
Russia and the United States have said they are open to talks, however President Joe Biden said he would only negotiate with Putin if he showed a commitment to ending the war with Ukraine.
Kyiv says talks can only take place if Russia stops attacking and pulls out its troops from the Eastern European nation. Along with many of its allies, Ukraine does not want to reward Putin with concessions, especially given the success of counteroffensives, which have driven back Russian forces from large areas.
However, Russia has rejected talks with the U.S. on the condition that Moscow pulls out of Ukraine, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday, Russian news agency TASS reported.
The ISW said this was part of a Kremlin ploy to create the perception that “Russia needs to be lured to negotiate” and be offered preliminary concessions like recognizing the annexations and curbing NATO and Western military actions in Europe.
The think tank has previously said that Putin is not interested in negotiating seriously with Ukraine and “retains maximalist objectives for the war.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that to ensure negotiations take place, he was sympathetic to Moscow’s need for security guarantees, which were the focus of failed diplomacy in the run-up to the war.
He told the French TV station TF1 that “one of the essential points we must address…is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia,” Reuters reported Saturday.
Newsweek has contacted the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries for comment.
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