The West has offered Vladimir Putin “surrender terms” and the Russian leader’s “cronies have reacted positively” because it offers them the chance to “avoid criminal charges” for war crimes and for them “to stay in power.”
Putin and the Kremlin suffered yet another humiliating set back after the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered between 30,000 and 40,000 troops to withdraw from Kherson.
Professor Valery Solovey, formerly at Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations who has Kremlin connections said that the surrender could see Moscow give up all territory in Ukraine but not Crimea.
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Solovey said that Crimea could become a demilitarised zone and in return Putin’s henchmen would avoid criminal charges.
Washington has been leaning on Kyiv to join Moscow on the negotiating table and General Mark Milley, head of the US general staff, said a lull in fighting over the winter months does present an “opportunity” negotiations.
Solovey has claimed that so far six countries have agreed to provide security guarantees underwriting the deal.
Solovey claims the guarantees could include a pact to come to Ukraine’s defence if it were attacked again by Russia.
It is most likely that the US and the UK would be among those countries who would act as guarantors as they are Kyiv’s closest allies.
Solovey added, “If the president declines these conditions which the Russian establishment is ready to accept… then military actions continue.
“If massive rocket attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, first of all, power stations, resume, this means that the president does not accept these conditions.
“If there is no bombing, it does not necessarily mean readiness to accept [the offer to surrender].
“It means that the contemplation continues, and an attempt is being made to get some extra time to assess the situation.”
Ben Barry, a senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said, “It’s definitely a turning point, but it doesn’t mean that Russia has lost or that Ukraine has won.
“Russia was still capable of a new offensive or counterattacks. It is far too soon to write them off.”
Speaking last night President Zelensky, said the onus is on Moscow to prove that they are genuine to start negotiations, but he does not see any “desire” in Putin to stop the war.
He said, “When Russia truly wants peace, we will definitely feel it and see it.
“But you can’t wish for peace with words alone – words are not enough. Stop the war, withdraw from our territory, stop killing people, start reimbursing the damages inflicted on our country.
“Criminals must be prosecuted. Words are not enough.”
Zelensky added, “It is only the Kremlin and only one person – the head of the Russian Federation – who is not tired of the war. [Putin] might be tired of life in principle, because of his age, but he is definitely not tired of the war.”
Zelensky said in September that he will never negotiate with Putin, and will only hold talks with “the next Russian leader.”
On Friday evening President Zelensky declared that Kherson is back in Ukrainian hands “our people, our Kherson.”
In an address to the Ukrainian people, President Zelensky said, “today is a historic day, we are returning the south of our country, returning Kherson.”
He then thanked the strength and spirit of the people of Kherson, and said they “believed in Ukraine” despite the “threats, repression and abuse” of Russian soldiers.