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Putin aimed to undermine Western support for Ukraine with his statements before Peace Summit – ISW

Sunday, 16 June 2024, 07:40
Putin aimed to undermine Western support for Ukraine with his statements before Peace Summit – ISW
Vladimir Putin. Photo: Getty Images

The analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have reported that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, with his statements about Russia's alleged "willingness to negotiate" on the terms of Ukraine's capitulation, was trying to confuse the purpose of the summit and undermine Western support for Ukraine.

Source: ISW

Details: Putin’s information operation on 14 June about Russia's alleged "willingness to negotiate" on terms tantamount to Ukraine's capitulation confused the purpose of the Ukraine-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on 15 June, the report says.

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Putin specifically outlined his demands for "peace" talks in Ukraine the day before the Global Peace Summit to undermine Western support for Ukraine's legitimate claims against Russia and to divert attention from the task of building international consensus on how to ensure that Russia's illegal war of aggression does not lead to an unfair victory for Russia.

"Putin’s duplicitous statements about his supposed "willingness to negotiate" thus reoriented international discourse to highlight how Putin — who is not interested in upholding the principles of the UN Charter in his war of conquest in Ukraine — was not invited to the conference, and how Putin’s absence at the summit presented some kind of intrinsic paradox," the report says. But in reality, experts add, this is not the case.

Several Western officials acknowledged that Russia was trying to derail the purpose of the summit and focus the conversation on Russia's absence.

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US Vice President Kamala Harris said that Putin's "peace" proposal of 14 June was not a call for negotiations, but a call "for [Ukraine's] surrender".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that Russia should be involved in the peace process at "some stage", although he admitted that Putin was not interested in negotiations "at the moment" and likely purposely made a "ridiculous peace proposal" on 14 June.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that "peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved without involving Russia", but noted that Russia has rejected all collective calls for peace.

Robert Wood, US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, said during the UN Security Council meeting on 14 June that Russia's decision to convene the UN Security Council the day before the summit was "an effort to divert the international community's attention away from the summit and distract the world from Russia's war in Ukraine".

The Kremlin's mouthpieces have intensified ongoing Russian information operations aimed at further discrediting and disrupting the Global Peace Summit on 15 June.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticised the West's "unconstructive" reaction to Putin's 14 June ultimatums and said the Kremlin hoped someone would hold a "more constructive" peace summit later.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the West must discuss Putin's 14 June ultimatums if it wants peace in Ukraine and to "save the world".

Russian State Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin said that a peace summit was pointless after Putin's ultimatums and confirmed Russia's ongoing narrative to discredit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukraine's legitimate president and a party to the negotiation process.

The report states that ISW continues to assess and observe that Russian officials typically feign interest in negotiations at critical moments in the war to influence decision-making in the West and as part of their efforts to obtain preemptive concessions from the West regarding Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Quote: "Any Western efforts to force Ukraine into negotiations with Russia before Russia abandons its genocidal and imperialist ambitions in Ukraine will almost certainly not result in a lasting solution to the conflict and only provide Putin with additional time to further optimise and prepare the Russian war machine for a future invasion." 

To quote the ISW's Key Takeaways on 16 June:

  • Several senior Western officials made statements at the Ukraine-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland that inadvertently play into ongoing Russian information operations falsely portraying Russia as interested in legitimate and good faith negotiations, likely in part due to Russian [leader] Vladimir Putin's efforts to undermine the summit through his carefully planned restatement of his uncompromising demands for Ukraine's capitulation on June 14.
  • Kremlin mouthpieces amplified ongoing Russian information operations intended to discredit and disrupt the Global Peace Summit.
  • Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk reported that Western military assistance has begun to arrive in Ukraine, but that Western military assistance will likely not arrive at scale and significantly impact the frontline situation for several more weeks to months.
  • Chairperson of the ruling United Russia Party Dmitry Medvedev officially replaced United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak with acting Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Ural Federal District Vladimir Yakushev.
  • Russian [leader] Vladimir Putin is preparing a group of trusted and Kremlin-affiliated "veterans" to assume government roles, likely in an attempt to appease Russian servicemen and domestic supporters of the war in Ukraine.
  • The Swedish military announced on June 15 that a Russian Su-24 tactical fighter-bomber plane temporarily violated Swedish airspace east of the southern tip of Gotland on June 14, likely as part of an effort to discourage European states from participating in NATO and other international institutions supporting Ukraine.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Kupiansk and Avdiivka.
  • Elements of the Russian Baltic and Pacific fleets are participating in separate naval exercises.
  • A Financial Times (FT) investigation published on June 12 found that Russian officials have put Ukrainian children up for adoption whom Russia had forcibly deported from occupied Ukraine to Russia in 2022.

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