Putin's "Peace Plan": Surrender or Die

Putin's recent "peace plan" proposal strongly conveys an ultimatum to Ukraine: surrender or face destruction, researcher Oleksandr Moskalenko analyzes

by Sededin Dedovic
Putin's "Peace Plan": Surrender or Die
© Black Journals / Youtube channel

Russia may have abandoned the transparent, comically operatic simplicity of Lavrov's language from 2022, but the message today remains the same. On June 14, Putin made another wish list, which he called a "peace offer." Those familiar with Russian officials will appreciate this latest detachment from reality, especially the demand that Ukraine cede more territory to the occupier, despite having received over $160 billion in foreign war aid and rejuvenating its conscription system to recruit more soldiers, says Oleksandr Moskalenko, a respected researcher focused on political and security interactions within the EU-Ukraine-Russia triangle, in an analysis for Cepa.org.

The Kremlin’s peace offers follow a certain pattern—the more the Ukrainian armed forces are equipped with Western weapons and the greater the geographical area on which they can deploy them (now including parts of western Russia), the more there is talk of peace.

: Ukrainian recruits and their British Armed Forces trainers pose for a photograph on an AS90 self-propelled artillery system at© Leon Neal / Getty Images

The arms supplies are still insufficient to force a serious peace offer from the Russian regime, but the trend reveals what has become evident—there is no path to ending hostilities except through armed force.

Once there is a balance of military capacities, making further Russian aggression too painful to endure, the Kremlin will capitulate. Putin's Russia understands only power, above all military power. Putin’s words, however, show what he wants from Ukraine.

Although this time his wish list is limited to four Ukrainian regions plus Crimea, no one should be deceived. The additional unspoken demand is that Ukraine cease to function as an independent state. This could begin with a ceasefire along the current front line, but the war would not end there.

Later, Putin would come back for more. His proclamation raises two questions that require deeper analysis: To whom was Putin speaking when he made this offer?. What is he offering in return for his wish list being fulfilled? By calling President Zelensky illegitimate, Putin answers the first question himself.

He is not talking to Ukraine. His message is directed at the broader world—the so-called collective West.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (centre, L) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre, R) listen to Ukraine President Vol© Handout / Getty Images

The Russian leader imagines himself as a second Stalin, organizing virtual Yalta-type negotiations with the contemporary political heirs of Churchill and Roosevelt.

The answer to the second question is truly fascinating—he offers nothing. Putin's offer contains no concessions. Therefore, it is not a peace offer or any attempt at negotiation; it is merely an ultimatum. Give up what I demand, or the aggression will continue.

But perhaps Putin’s offer implies a final acknowledgment of Ukrainian statehood within new borders? No. From the years following his 2014 decision to start armed aggression against Ukraine to his rambling quasi-historical writings that hinted at an all-out invasion to his late 2021 demands that NATO withdraw from its eastern members, and only when his demands in June called for Ukraine's surrender, Putin has maintained a maximalist agenda.

Even if he offered something softer (as some suggested during the so-called Istanbul negotiations in 2022), he simply cannot be trusted to follow through. Putin is a pathological liar, which essentially means he lies every time he opens his mouth.

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia looks on during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing Nati© Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Is there any hope that he will ever change? There has been no sign of it during his nearly 25 years in power.

We must accept the reality—that this war is a Russian attack on the collective West orchestrated by the Kremlin. Russia has sought the restoration of the sphere of influence established at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945. But Russia is not the Soviet Union.

It turns out that the myth of Putin building the "second army of the world" is illusory. His forces were so bloodied in 2022 that they became little more than scattered bands of marauders capable of killing civilians but unable to break Ukrainian non-professional territorial defense units.

Even 29 months after the start of full-scale hostilities, Putin's forces do not hold any major Ukrainian city. All this against the backdrop of astronomical casualties both in troops and military equipment. How has this affected Kremlin talks about negotiations? Not at all.

With a poker face, Putin and his accomplices continue to talk about their demands while remaining completely silent about what they plan to offer in return. It is possible that at some point Ukraine and its Western supporters might move toward negotiations.

But as they consider the numerous statements of the Russian regime about "peace plans," they know that these are nothing more than "information special operations." The old man in the Kremlin does not know the right words to end the slaughter.