Putin's Tentative Olive Branch: Could It Signal an End to the Ukraine Conflict?

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.08 - 2024 9:40 AM CET

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Photo: ID1974 / Shutterstock.com
Photo: ID1974 / Shutterstock.com
Putin hints at dialogue in his fifth term inauguration; experts weigh its impact on the Ukraine conflict.

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In a recent development that might hint at a potential end to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made statements that some experts interpret as an acknowledgment of limits to his ambitions in the region.

During his inauguration for a fifth term, Putin expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue with the West, stirring speculations about his intentions.

A Shift in Tone?

According to Russia's state news agency RIA, Putin remarked,

"We do not reject dialogue with the West. The choice is theirs," adding that the West needs to decide whether it wants to continue limiting Russia's development or seek cooperation.

He further emphasized the possibility of talks on security issues and strategic stability, but insisted on equal terms and mutual respect for interests.

Interpreting Putin's Comments

Kristian Gerner, a Russia expert and professor emeritus at Lund University, interprets Putin's speech as a subtle indication of his readiness to conclude the war on terms favorable to Russia.

"What he is saying is that he is willing to end the war in Ukraine with the gains he has achieved," Gerner explained to Norwegian VG.

He suggests that Putin recognizes the impossibility of overtaking all of Ukraine and is likely to hold onto areas already occupied by Russian forces.

Gerner theorizes that Putin would be satisfied if allowed to retain control of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, a proposal that Ukraine has firmly rejected.

The real test, however, lies in how Western powers will respond to Putin's apparent overture. "Putin's problem is that he has depleted all credibility. Western leaders like Macron and Biden dare not trust him. They don't know what he might do," Gerner stated, highlighting the skepticism that pervades Western capitals.

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