Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says Putin’s ceasefire offer cannot be trusted

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The ceasefire offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin is an ultimatum which cannot be trusted, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday.

Putin said in a speech earlier in the day that Russia would end the war in Ukraine if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow.

Speaking to Italy’s SkyTG24 news channel on the sidelines of a G7 summit, Zelenskyy said he believed Putin would not stop his military offensive even if his ceasefire demands were met.

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“These are ultimatum messages that are no different from messages from the past,” the Ukrainian leader said in remarks translated and aired in Italian via an interpreter.

“He will not stop,” Zelenskyy said about Putin, making a parallel with German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s expansionist drive before the outbreak of World War II.

“It is the same thing that Hitler used to do (...) This is why we should not trust these messages,” Zelenskyy added.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign ministry described Putin’s words as “manipulative statements aimed at misleading the international community (and) undermining diplomatic efforts to achieve a just peace.”

“It is absurd for Putin, who planned, prepared and executed, together with his accomplices, the largest armed aggression in Europe since the Second World War, to present himself as a peacemaker,” the ministry added.

In separate comments, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters there was “no possibility to find compromise” between Putin’s statement and Ukraine’s conditions for ending the war launched by Russia.

“He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty,” Podolyak said via Zoom.

Putin spoke on the eve of a conference in Switzerland at which Kyiv is promoting its own peace plan calling for the total withdrawal of Russian troops, including from the 18 percent of its lands currently occupied by Russia.

Russia has not been invited to the Swiss event, which Kyiv says will be attended by representatives from more than 100 countries and organizations, including many heads of state.

Podolyak said Putin was trying to seize the news agenda from Ukraine by making his speech just before the summit.

The aide, who frequently acts as a spokesperson for the president’s office, said Moscow was also trying to present itself to the world, and particularly to the “Global South” countries, as the party more interested in peace.

“By Putin’s statement, Russia is making it look as though it was not them who started the aggression... but as if they are proposing peace and Ukraine does not want it,” he said.

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Podolyak said Ukraine wanted peace, but only if Russia was justly punished for its aggression and Ukraine’s sovereignty was upheld.

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