UPDATE - Putin says Russia ready for peace talks with Ukraine at any time, place

UPDATE - Putin says Russia ready for peace talks with Ukraine at any time, place

If Kyiv links peace negotiations with withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, then talks will never happen, says Russian president


By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on Thursday that Moscow is ready for peace talks with Ukraine at any time and place.

"On the basis of those agreements ... that were reached during difficult negotiations, almost a month and a half of negotiations in Istanbul and Minsk ... we are ready to continue our dialogue with the Ukrainian side. And it doesn't matter where they take place – in Minsk, Istanbul or Switzerland. ... Even tomorrow," he stressed, speaking at a news conference in Vietnam's capital Hanoi.

Putin said he expected that the West would oppose his peace initiative on Ukraine and questioned why Russia's proposal was called "unrealistic" while no one criticized the same way Ukraine's "ultimatum," containing conditions unacceptable for Moscow.

Sane politicians will think about Russia's proposal on Ukraine if they want to end the conflict, he said, warning that conditions may change depending on the situation on the battlefield.

"I do not think that such nihilism regarding our proposals will remain forever. For sure, something will change, including our conditions, depending on the situation on the ground," he said.

At the same time, if Kyiv links the start of peace negotiations with the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, then talks will never happen, he stressed.

About the legitimacy of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Putin said that he expects him to be replaced by the West in the first half of 2025.

Responding to a question about Ukraine's counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, Putin said the Russian military is considering all possible scenarios.

- Changing Russia's military doctrine

Commenting on NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg remarks about putting the alliance's nuclear forces on alert, Putin said Russia is closely monitoring such intentions, and will respond adequately if something happens.

The Russian president also noted that the country's authorities are thinking about changes to the nuclear doctrine because "opponents" lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

"This is due to the fact that new elements are emerging ... related to lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. In particular, ultra-low-power explosive nuclear devices are being developed. ... It may not be scary, but we have to pay attention to this. And we pay attention to this," he emphasized.

Asked if Moscow plans to include a preemptive nuclear strike in the new edition of the doctrine, the president said "no need," explaining that Russian forces are capable of repelling the opponent's attack "in counter strike."

"No need for preemptive strike so far because the opponent will be assuredly destroyed in counter strike," he said.

- Military cooperation with North Korea

Commenting on Russia-North Korea Comprehensive Partnership Treaty signed on Wednesday, Putin wondered why it was perceived unkindly in the West, noting that the agreement repeats the 1962 document that expired.

"We have hardly changed anything, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has similar agreements with other countries," he highlighted.

Asked about the clause on mutual military assistance, Putin underscored that it comes into effect in case of military aggression against either country, and is not applicable in Ukraine's conflict.

As for the “smoldering" Korean conflict, the Russian leader expressed hope the agreement will serve as a deterrent factor, so that this crisis does not escalate into some kind of hot phase.

Commenting on South Korea's concern over the new Russian-North Korean treaty, Putin said Seoul "has nothing to worry about," because under the agreement the military assistance may be provided only if someone attacks Pyongyang.

"As far as I know, the Republic of Korea does not plan aggression against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which means there is no need to be afraid of our cooperation in this area," he underscored.

The Russian president warned Seoul against arms supplies to Ukraine, saying if the relevant decision is made, Moscow will take steps that the South Korean leadership "will hardly like."

Putin compared sanctions against North Korea with the Siege of Leningrad, when over two million people died of hunger as Germans blocked all food supplies to the city.

"I realize that in today's situation it will be almost impossible to do this (lift sanctions from Pyongyang) in the usual ways, but we need to work on it," he said.

Asked about the West's permission to Ukraine to use supplied weapons to carry out strikes on Russia's territory, Putin said Moscow reserves the right to take mirror measures.

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