Ukraine dismisses Putin's ceasefire conditions as 'absurd'

Political advisor of Ukrainian President Podolyak speaks during an interview in Kyiv

By Max Hunder

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine dismissed ceasefire conditions announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday as "absurd", saying he was trying to mislead world powers and undermine genuine peace efforts.

Putin said in a speech Russia would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow.

Ukraine's foreign ministry described his words as "manipulative statements aimed at misleading the international community (and) undermining diplomatic efforts to achieve a just peace".

"It is absurd for Putin, who planned, prepared and executed, together with his accomplices, the largest armed aggression in Europe since the Second World War, to present himself as a peacemaker," the ministry added.

In separate comments, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters there was "no possibility to find compromise" between Putin's statement and Ukraine's conditions for ending the war launched by Russia.

"He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty," Podolyak said via Zoom.

Putin spoke on the eve of a conference in Switzerland at which Kyiv is promoting its own peace plan calling for the total withdrawal of Russian troops, including from the 18% of its lands currently occupied by Russia.

Russia has not been invited to the Swiss event, which Kyiv says will be attended by representatives from more than 100 countries and organisations, including many heads of state.

Podolyak said Putin was trying to seize the news agenda from Ukraine by making his speech just before the summit.

The aide, who frequently acts as a spokesperson for the president's office, said Moscow was also trying to present itself to the world, and particularly to the "Global South" countries, as the party more interested in peace.

"By Putin's statement, Russia is making it look as though it was not them who started the aggression... but as if they are proposing peace and Ukraine does not want it," he said.

Podolyak said Ukraine wanted peace, but only if Russia was justly punished for its aggression and Ukraine's sovereignty was upheld.

(Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Andrew Heavens)