Vladimir Putin is prepared to halt the war in Ukraine with a ceasefire that acknowledges the current battlefield lines, four Russian sources have informed the Reuters news agency.

Three of the sources claimed that the Russian leader had expressed frustration about what he perceives as Western-backed attempts to obstruct ceasefire negotiations. “Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but he is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” a senior Russian source, who has reportedly worked with Mr. Putin and has knowledge of top-level discussions in the Kremlin, told Reuters.

They said freezing the conflict along the current lines is non-negotiable for Mr. Putin as it would leave Russia in possession of substantial portions of four Ukrainian regions, albeit without full control of any. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a ceasefire, going so far as to sign a decree in 2022 that formally declared any talks with Mr Putin “impossible”. He reiterated this view at the beginning of the year, saying any pause in fighting would “play into [Russia’s] hands” and “might crush us afterwards”.

Both Mr Putin and Mr Zelenskyy also rejected a proposal put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month for a temporary ceasefire to be held during the Olympic Games, from 26 July to 11 August. However, according to two of the sources who spoke to Reuters, Mr Putin believes recent gains in the war are sufficient to present as a victory to the Russian people.

This month, Russian forces have intensified the bombardment of the southern region of Kharkiv. The Kremlin has claimed its troops have taken control of numerous villages and cities in the area, while Ukrainian officials have said troops still control the majority of the territory and house-to-house fighting has been taking place.

Mr Putin is reportedly understood to think any dramatic new advances in the country would require another nationwide mobilisation, which he wants to avoid – one source pointing out that his popularity dipped after the first mobilisation in September 2022.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Reuters that Russia had repeatedly made it clear it was open to dialogue to achieve its goals, saying the country did not want an “eternal war”. However, Mr Putin has already ruled out attending the upcoming Ukraine Peace Summit, which is being held in Burgenstock, Switzerland, from 15-16 June – an event Ukraine is keen for Russia’s allies to attend.

Much of the West, including the US, does not believe Russia is genuinely interested in serious ceasefire negotiations. A US State Department spokesperson told Reuters that any initiative for peace must respect Ukraine’s “territorial integrity, within its internationally recognised borders”. They described Russia as the sole obstacle to peace in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s foreign and defence ministries did not respond to Reuters for comment.

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