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US defence secretary dismisses Putin's peace terms with Ukraine

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin says Russian president could end Ukraine war today if he chooses

By  Web Desk   |  
June 15, 2024
This combination of images shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) andUS Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. — Reuters/Files

United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not have the authority to "make demands" on Ukraine to end the war.

According to Reuters, Austin made the remarks as he highlighted Ukraine's successes in defending against Russia's invasion.

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Earlier, Putin declared that Russia would only consider ending the war "if Ukraine renounces its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aspirations, hands over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow, and demilitarises itself".

"He is not in any position to dictate to Ukraine what they must do to bring about peace," Austin told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

As the conflict enters its third year, Russia controls almost 20% of Ukrainian territory, while Ukraine insists on a complete Russian withdrawal and the restoration of its territorial integrity as the basis for peace.

"He's had some hundreds of thousands of troops wounded and killed in this unjust and unprovoked invasion. He could end this today if he chose to do that. And we call upon him to do that and to leave Ukrainian sovereign territory," Austin said.

In his address, Putin stated that Ukraine's future depended on it adopting a neutral status, withdrawing its forces, and initiating talks with Russia.

The timing of his speech seemed to preempt Ukraine's "peace conference" in Switzerland and NATO's summit in Washington, where discussions on Ukraine’s future membership in the alliance are ongoing.

This comes as President Zelensky seeks international support for Kyiv's terms to end the war.

NATO's official line is that Ukraine will join the alliance one day, but not while the country is at war.

Austin also said that NATO expansion wasn't likely in the short-term.

"In terms of NATO expansion, I think that's a decision that 32 members of (the) NATO alliance will make at some point in time, I don't see any desire or indication that we will pursue expansion at any point in the near future," Austin said.

Austin said he suspected there would always be countries that would want to join NATO, but at this point the alliance wants to focus on bringing on its newest member, Sweden and Finland.


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