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Putin drops peace deal in favor of Ukraine land grab – FT

Russian President Vladimir Putin has abandoned plans for a peace deal and appears set to conquer more Ukrainian territory after failing to secure a quick victory in the first phase of the operation, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three anonymous people informed of the conversations with him.

There was hope for a deal. Putin was going back and forth,” one of the people said.

But talks have stalled after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Putin of war crimes in Bucha and Mariupol, and a seemingly furious Putin signaled that peace efforts were at an ‘impasse’ after the cruiser sank Moskva missile launcher.

“Putin was against signing anything. [ . . . ] after the Moskva, he doesn’t look like a winner, because it was humiliating,” the source added. “He has to find a way to come out on top.”

Moscow said last week it had delivered its detailed proposal to Kyiv after negotiators drafted their first communiqué in Istanbul in late March, but Zelensky said he had not received it.

Negotiators interpreted Putin to have shifted to a land grab strategy because he told European Council President Charles Michel in a call on Friday that Ukraine had “built a wall” and that it was not was “not the right time” to meet Zelensky, according to FT.

He wants everything to be decided before their personal meeting,” said a person involved in the peace talks, adding that Putin was avoiding meeting Zelensky “with all his might.”

A senior Russian general said on Friday that the second phase of the operation would be to take control of eastern and southern Ukraine to provide a land corridor to annexed Crimea.

Putin also insisted during the talks that Russian troops were not targeting civilians, a distorted view apparently presented to him by generals and portrayed on Russian television, FT reported.

“Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears about [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said a person briefed on the talks.

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