Ceasefire talks and military aid to Ukraine

Once again there is a story in the media that, secretly, Putin is ready for negotiations. There is little reason to believing that this is actually true. More likely, the "secret sources" that have been talking to journalists from Reuters are intentional leaks as part of an information operation.

But whether the story is true or not is actually less important than many people think. The important thing is that the potential of peace talks doesn't mean a lot for the Western military support for Ukraine, which has to continue even as negotiations are ongoing. That is the only way to ensure a strong negotiating position for Ukraine.

That is my topic in this video.


Putin wants negotiations about a ceasefire. That story is now being reported in Western media, and apparently it's something that anonymous sources have told to Reuters. It's not the first time we hear this. The same story has been reported several times before that anonymous sources say that secretly Putin is ready for negotiations or something like that. In this video, I want to talk about why that is probably not true and what Russia is getting out of pushing that narrative, but also about why, ultimately, it shouldn't really matter all that much for the way the West is supporting Ukraine, even if Russia were interested in negotiations. So let's talk about it.

It's not the first time we hear this story that some secret sources have told some journalists that secretly Putin is ready for negotiations or peace talks or a ceasefire or something like that. It has happened several times before, but I think there are good reasons to be skeptical when this story appears and when it reappears in the media. First, nothing in the Russian behavior indicates that they are looking for a way to deescalate the conflict or to build some kind of trust that can serve as a basis for negotiations with the Ukrainians. Quite on the contrary, the Russians keep escalating.

They have been on the offensive for the last eight months now. They just opened a new front in the Kharkiv region. In public statements from the Russian leadership and in the Russian propaganda machine, the rhetoric keeps being about how determined they are to fight until victory.

In many ways, it's a kind of genocidal rhetoric where the point is that Ukraine is not a real country and that it's necessary to destroy the idea of Ukrainian nationhood. That is one reason why I think we should be skeptical when we see these news reports that show up again and again that Putin is somehow looking for negotiations. Because if you look at what Russia is doing or what the official statements are, then there is nothing that points in that direction.

The second reason to be skeptical is that at this point in the war, Russia has achieved practically none of their original war aims. They did not go to war because they wanted to steal a bit of territory in the eastern part of Ukraine. They went to war because they wanted to achieve political control over Ukraine and to turn the country into a kind of clone of Belarus. Then they wanted to stop NATO expansion and to redefine European security by ensuring that Russian forces would have access all the way to the western borders of Ukraine and that way be well into central Europe.

They have achieved nothing of that. If the war ends here, where the front line is going now, and the rest of Ukraine then becomes a member of NATO and they become a part of the western bloc, then that's a defeat for Russia. It would also be a defeat for Ukraine. I think they would look at it like that, but it would be a defeat for Russia. It's very hard to see how Putin would be able to accept that situation. He has shown so much determination up to this point, and I think it's naive to think that he would just suddenly say, "Nah, we're fine."

So there is good reason to be skeptical that Putin is actually looking for negotiations or that he is willing to seriously contemplate a peace deal. Why do we keep hearing these stories? They are actually very useful for Russia from a strategic communications point of view. There are essentially two stories that we see keep popping up like this that Russia is using, and they're using them to influence the behavior of western countries.

The first one is the nuclear threats. We have seen those reappear again as well in the last month, and I recently made a video about that, but that is one way they are trying to influence the behavior of western countries. They are throwing around these nuclear threats, and they're trying to scare some people in the west.

The other story is this idea that actually secretly Putin is open for peace. This is, in a sense, the counterpoint to the nuclear threat. They're trying to appeal to the same audience that is afraid of the nuclear war that there is actually another possibility. There is an alternative to escalation, and that maybe there is a path through negotiations where we can end this horrible war.

What they want to achieve is for the western countries to stop sending so much military aid to Ukraine and to instead to push Ukraine into negotiations. Then there isn't really any reason to believe that these negotiations would go anywhere or lead to anything, but that's not the point. The point is that it will lead to a period where Ukraine would get less military assistance.

That is one effect that the Russians are hoping to achieve by planting this story in the western media. Another reason is that they want to create some trouble for the summit on peace that Ukraine is organizing in Switzerland. It's in a couple of weeks in the middle of June. Here Ukraine, they're going to try to persuade a lot of countries that they actually are very keen on a peace deal, but that the problem is that the Russians are not interested in negotiations. It makes sense for Russia to try to plant the story to complicate the narrative for the Ukrainians.

So that is the explanation of what the Russians are trying to achieve with the story and why there is little reason to believing that it's actually true. But I want to finish off with a very important point that I think is often overlooked in the western countries when we have these discussions about the possibilities of peace talks. And that is that whenever you go into negotiations about anything, you always want to be negotiating from a position of strength. If you negotiate from a position of weakness, then you're not going to get a very good deal.

So if the western countries want the best possible solution for Ukraine as a result of negotiations, then they should make sure that Ukraine is in a position of strength during those negotiations. And what I mean by that is that even if there is a perspective of possible negotiations out there, or even if negotiations are ongoing, then that's not a reason for the west to scale down the military support for Ukraine. In fact, you could say that there is a reason to increase the military support in order to put more pressure on the Russian negotiations. That's how negotiations work.

So there is something fundamentally flawed about the idea that if Russia is secretly signaling that they might be open for some kind of talks, then that means that the west can sort of scale down the aid to Ukraine. That's not the way it works. You have to keep supporting Ukraine no matter what, because otherwise there will be a situation where as the negotiations are progressing, the Ukrainian side will just get more and more desperate. And that will lead to either a bad deal for Ukraine, or it can lead to the negotiations breaking down because Russia will not be willing to make the necessary compromises on their side.

That was a long way of saying that I don't think this story is very important. There is no reason to believe that Russia is sincere about negotiations, and even if they are, then it shouldn't really mean all that much for the western policies in terms of weapons deliveries and support for Ukraine.

Okay, I will end it here. If you found the video helpful or informative, then please give it a like. And if you want to support the channel, then you can sign up for my newsletter. I call it the Logic of War newsletter, and you can find it on www.logicofwar.com.

Thank you very much for watching, and I will see you again next time.