Kremlin revives info campaign to coerce West into forcing Ukraine to negotiate on Russian terms – ISW

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Editor’s Note

The US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggests that the Kremlin is likely reviving its information campaign to coerce the West into forcing Ukraine to accept concessions and negotiate on terms favorable to Russia.

The Kremlin claimed on May 26 that Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed “the openness of the Russian side to dialogue on the political and diplomatic track, which is still blocked by Kyiv and its Western sponsors” in a phone call with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Putin’s statement does not indicate that Russia is interested in pursuing negotiations with Ukraine, and the Kremlin has not established any serious grounds for negotiations nor abandoned its maximalist goals to force the Ukrainian government to capitulate.

The Kremlin is likely attempting to intensify its false claims about its readiness to negotiate with Ukraine amidst the arrival of the Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui in Moscow on May 26 to discuss a negotiated settlement to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Li previously urged European officials to end the conflict in Ukraine before it escalates during his visit to European states in the past week. The WSJ also reported that a (likely European, but unspecified) diplomat who spoke to Li explained that freezing the conflict was not beneficial to international interests and that Europe would not withdraw its support for Ukraine. The WSJ also reported that another (likely European, but unspecified) diplomat claimed that China’s main interests are ensuring Russian victory and ensuring that Russia does not use nuclear weapons.

China demands that Russia retains occupied territories of Ukraine – WSJ

The claimed interaction likely indicates that China may be attempting to push the West to influence Ukraine into accepting a ceasefire. The Kremlin is likely amplifying its false interests in negotiations ahead of the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive in order to discourage continued Western aid to Ukraine. ISW has previously reported on Russia’s peace negotiation information operations to deter Western support for Ukraine.

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