Putin quietly seeks ceasefire in war with Ukraine, says report

Washington: Russian President Vladimir Putin is reported to be signaling readiness to a ceasefire in the war with Ukraine along the current battle line, ending a conflict that has had ramifications well beyond the two countries, impeded post-Covid-19 economic recovery, spawned food shortages around the world and driven fissures in relations between otherwise friendly nations.

Putin has expressed privately the willingness to a ceasefire through intermediaries, The New York Times reported on Saturday citing two former senior Russian officials close to the Kremlin and American and international officials who have heard the message from Putin’s envoys.

The publication also reported that the Russian president had sought a ceasefire once before, a year ago.

“They say, ‘we are ready to have negotiations on a cease-fire’,” the report quoted a senior international official who met top Russian officials this fall.

“They want to stay where they are on the battlefield.”

There are no indications, however, if Ukraine will accept a ceasefire without taking back territories captured by Russia. The report also warned that Putin could change his mind. An as-is-where-is ceasefire has also been gaining traction in the US, where taxpayers’ willings to keep funding the way has been waning and many Republican lawmakers have opposed it, foiling attempts by the US President Joe Biden-led administration to get Congress’ authorisation for additional funds.

A legislation to that effect collapsed earlier this month and its fate will be determined when lawmakers return to Washington after the holidays.

Biden had vowed to be with Ukraine for as long as it takes, but without Congress’ support, his words alone will not be enough. And without US funds, and those from other western nations, Kiev won’t be able to withstand the Russian military for much too long.

Western nations are now reported to be trying to find ways to utilize billions of dollars of frozen Russian banks’ assets abroad to fund Ukraine.

Biden has in public remarks said the decision to end the war will be Ukraine’s alone.

A ceasefire, however, will be greeted by a huge sigh of relief around the world.

New Delhi, for one, will be relieved. India’s ties with Russia will no longer be a sticking point in its ties with the US.

Its purchases of arms and weapons and oil has been under unrelenting US scrutiny, with threats of secondary sanctions. It will not be expected to side with the US-led alliance, severing decades-old ties with Russia, going back to the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). New Delhi’s refusal to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine in language and tone mimicking the US-led alliance had become a sore point here in the US, even with long-time friends of India.

That was before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took care of it, with a strong statement to President Putin in live remarks beamed around the world.

Now “is not an era of war”, he said.

That statement was embraced by American officials and became a standard representation of India’s new position.

It even found its way into joint statements and pronouncements from multilateral groupings such as G20. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 came at a time when the global economy was still struggling with the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic and it was cited as the cause for sluggish recovery by every report that has come since from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Russia’s naval blockade in the Black Sea caused a worldwide shortage of grains as Ukraine’s exports were stranded for five months.

Ukraine is called the breadbasket of the world.

Most importantly, a ceasefire will prevent further death and destruction.


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