Putin promises ceasefire in Ukraine if Kiev withdraws from occupied territories and drops NATO bid

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Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Friday to “immediately” enforce a ceasefire in Ukraine and start negotiations if Kiev withdraws troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow and abandons plans to join NATO.

Such an agreement appears to be a nonstarter for Kiev, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its territory. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on Putin’s proposal.

“We will do it immediately,” Putin said in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

His comments came as leaders of the Group of seven leading industrialized countries met in Italy and as Switzerland prepared to host dozens of world leaders – but not from Moscow – this weekend to try to map out the first steps towards peace in Ukraine.

Putin said his proposal aims at a “final solution” of the conflict in Ukraine rather than “freezing it,” and stressed that the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

Broader demands for peace listed by the Russian leader include Ukraine’s non-nuclear status, limits on its military power and protecting the interests of the country’s Russian-speaking population. These must all become part of “fundamental international agreements” and all Western sanctions on Russia must be lifted, Putin said.

“We urge you to turn this tragic page of history and start restoring unity between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe in general, step by step,” he said.

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