Vladimir Putin’s ambassador to Ukraine told the Russian leader at the start of the war that he had reached an interim agreement with Kiev that satisfied Russia’s demand that Ukraine withdraw from the Western military alliance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But Putin rejected him. ahead of his military campaign, according to three people close to the Russian leadership.
Ukrainian-born Ambassador Dmitri Kozak told Putin he believed the deal he had reached eliminated Russia’s need to pursue a full-scale occupation of Ukraine. Cossacks’ recommendation to Putin to accept the deal was first reported by Reuters.
Putin had repeatedly said before the war that NATO and its military infrastructure were closing Russia’s borders by accepting new members from Eastern Europe, and now the alliance was preparing to bring Ukraine into its orbit. Putin has publicly stated that this poses an existential threat to Russia.
But despite earlier backing the talks, Putin made it clear that the concessions negotiated by his adviser did not go far enough, and that he had broadened his goals to include annexation of Ukrainian territory. . Result: Contract cancelled.
Asked by Reuters about the findings, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This has nothing to do with reality. This never happened. This is completely false information.”
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said Russia used the talks as a smokescreen to prepare for its invasion, but did not answer questions about the content of the talks or confirm that a preliminary agreement had been reached. “Today, we clearly understand that the Russian side is not interested in a peaceful agreement,” Podoliak said.
Two of the three sources said there was an attempt to finalize the deal immediately after the February 24 invasion of Russia. Within days, Cossack believed Ukraine’s agreement was on Russia’s key terms and suggested Putin sign a deal, the sources said.
A third source, recounted by people familiar with the discussions between Cossack and Putin, differed in the timeline, saying that Cossack proposed a deal to Putin and was rejected shortly before the invasion. All sources requested anonymity to share confidential insider information.
Even if Putin had agreed to the Cossacks’ plan, it remains uncertain whether the war would have ended. Reuters could not independently verify whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky or senior officials in his government were committed to the deal.
Less than six months into the war, Cossack is deputy head of the Kremlin. But he is no longer dealing with the Ukraine issue, according to six sources who spoke to Reuters.
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