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Putin offers truce if Ukraine exits Russian-claimed areas and drops NATO bid. Kyiv calls it 'absurd'

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Putin offers truce if Ukraine exits Russian-claimed areas and drops NATO bid. Kyiv calls it 'absurd'
News

News

Putin offers truce if Ukraine exits Russian-claimed areas and drops NATO bid. Kyiv calls it 'absurd'

2024-06-14 23:04 Last Updated At:23:12

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Friday to “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO. Ukraine responded by calling Putin’s proposal “manipulative” and “absurd.”

Putin’s remarks came as Switzerland prepared to host scores of world leaders -- but not from Moscow -- this weekend to try to map out first steps toward peace in Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leave a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Friday to “immediately” order a cease-fire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv started withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO. Ukraine responded by calling Putin’s proposal “manipulative” and “absurd.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov makes a statement after Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (Alexey Maishev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov makes a statement after Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (Alexey Maishev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

They also coincided with a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Italy and after the U.S. and Ukraine this week signed a 10-year security agreement that Russian officials, including Putin, denounced as “null and void.”

Putin blasted the Switzerland conference as “just another ploy to divert everyone’s attention, reverse the cause and effect of the Ukrainian crisis (and) set the discussion on the wrong track.”

His demands came in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry and was aimed at what he called a “final resolution” of the conflict rather than “freezing it,” and stressed the Kremlin is “ready to start negotiations without delay.”

Broader demands for peace that Putin listed included Ukraine’s recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, keeping the country’s nonnuclear status, restricting its military force and protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking population. All of these should be part of “fundamental international agreements,” and all Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted, Putin said.

“We’re urging to turn this tragic page of history and to begin restoring, step-by-step, the unity between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe in general,” he said.

Putin’s remarks, made to a group of somber Foreign Ministry officials and some senior lawmakers, represented a rare occasion in which he clearly laid out his conditions for ending the war in Ukraine, but it didn’t include any new demands. The Kremlin has said before that Kyiv should recognize its territorial gains and drop its bid to join NATO.

But Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called Putin’s plan “manipulative,” “absurd” and designed to “mislead the international community, undermine diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving a just peace, and split the unity of the world majority around the goals and principles of the U.N. Charter.”

Besides seeking to join NATO, Ukraine wants Russian forces out of its territory, including the Crimean Peninsula that was illegally annexed in 2014; the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity; and that Russia be held accountable for war crimes and for Moscow to pay reparations to Kyiv.

Russia launched its a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. After Ukrainian forces thwarted a Russian drive to the capital, much of the fighting has focused in the south and east -- and Moscow illegally annexed regions in the east and the south, although it doesn’t fully control any of them.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on social media that there was nothing new from Putinl and that the Russian leader “voiced only the ‘standard aggressor’s set,’ which has been heard many times already.”

“There is no novelty in this, no real peace proposals and no desire to end the war. But there is a desire not to pay for this war and to continue it in new formats. It’s all a complete sham,” Podolyak wrote on X.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at NATO headquarters in Brussels that Putin “has illegally occupied sovereign Ukrainian territory. He is not in any position to dictate to Ukraine what they must do to bring about a peace.”

Austin added that Putin “started this war with no provocation. He could end it today if he chose to do that.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg added that “this is not a peace proposal. This is a proposal of more aggression, more occupation, and it demonstrates in a way that that Russia’s aim is to control Ukraine.”

Putin insisted that Kyiv should withdraw from all four annexed regions entirely and essentially cede them to Moscow within their administrative borders. In Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, Russia still doesn’t control the region’s administrative capital with a pre-war population of about 700,000; in the neighboring Kherson region, Moscow withdrew from its biggest city and capital of the same name in November 2022.

Putin said if “Kyiv and Western capitals” reject his offer, “it is their business, their political and moral responsibility for continuing the bloodshed.”

The Kremlin has repeatedly aired its readiness for peace talks with Kyiv and blamed the West for undermining its efforts to end the conflict.

Putin went further Friday and claimed his troops never intended to storm Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, even though they approached the city.

“In essence, it was nothing other than an operation to force the Ukrainian regime to peace. The troops were there to push the Ukrainian side to negotiate, to try and find an acceptable solution,” he said.

Moscow withdrew from Kyiv in March 2022 and described it a goodwill gesture as peace talks between the two began, but the pullback took place amid fierce Ukrainian resistance that significantly slowed down Russia’s battlefield advances.

Putin also claimed that in that same month, he told a foreign official he wasn’t ruling out withdrawing forces from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and ceding occupied parts of them back to Ukraine, as long as Kyiv allowed Russia to have a “strong land connection” to Crimea.

He said the official planned on bringing that proposal to Kyiv — which Moscow “welcomed,” as it generally welcomed “attempts to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” But the Kremlin then annexed both regions, along with the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, citing the results of sham “referendums” it staged there. Putin mentioned those and said, “The matter is closed forever and is no longer up for discussion.”

In Friday’s fighting, Russian defenses shot down 87 Ukrainian drones, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said, most of them launched against the Rostov region, home to Russia’s southern military command, but no deaths or damage were reported in one of the biggest Ukrainian drone barrages of the war.

In Russia’s Belgorod region on the border, part of a residential building collapsed in the town of Shebekino after Ukrainian shelling, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said. Three people were injured, he said.

Ukraine’s military has been on the back foot in recent months, with its troops outnumbered by the Kremlin’s forces and running short of ammunition and weaponry due to delays in promised Western military aid.

Russia has battered Ukraine with drones, especially its power grid. It fired 14 missiles and 17 Shahed drones overnight, Ukraine’s air force said. Air defense systems downed all the drones as well as seven missiles, it said.

The attacks injured six people in the Donetsk region, where residential buildings were hit, officials said.

A Russian drone struck a bus near the village of Esman in the northern Sumy region, injuring three women. Authorities say 20 passengers were in the bus at the time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leave a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov leave a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov makes a statement after Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (Alexey Maishev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov makes a statement after Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (Alexey Maishev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrive to a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — Republican vice presidential nominee JD Vance will make his first solo appearances on the campaign trail Monday, a day after the 2024 presidential race was thrown into upheaval as President Joe Biden dropped out of the race, leaving the Democratic candidate an open question.

Vance, an Ohio senator, is scheduled to hold a rally in his hometown of Middletown, followed by an evening event in Radford, Virginia, fresh off his rally debut with Donald Trump over the weekend.

Vance had been expected to eventually face Vice President Kamala Harris in a debate. But with Biden dropping out and the Democratic ticket unsettled, the senator is following Trump’s lead and focusing on attacking Biden and Harris jointly.

“President Trump and I are ready to save America, whoever’s at the top of the Democrat ticket,” Vance said Sunday in a post on X. “Bring it on.”

Trump’s campaign plans to use Vance, who became the GOP vice presidential nominee last week, in Rust Belt states that are seen as pivotal for Democrats’ path to the White House, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and places where the senator’s blue collar roots and populist views are expected to resonate.

Middletown, between Cincinnati and Dayton, is considered to be part of the Rust Belt. Using it as the location for his first solo event as the vice presidential nominee not only allows Vance to lean into his biography, which he laid out in his bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” but it gives the campaign a chance to establish a fresh groundswell in a former swing state that has been trending Republican.

While Republicans promoted a unifying message last week and decried inflammatory language in the wake of the assassination attempt against Trump, one of the first speakers to introduce Vance at the rally suggested the country may need to come to civil war if Trump loses in November.

“I believe wholeheartedly, Donald Trump and Butler County’s JD Vance are the last chance to save our country,” said George Lang, a Republican state senator. “Politically, I’m afraid if we lose this one, it’s going to take a civil war to save the country and it will be saved. It’s the greatest experiment in the history of mankind."

Vendors outside the event removed merchandise referencing Biden and added coffee mugs, T-shirts and other items that featured Vance.

Vance’s second stop is in a part of western Virginia that is considered a part of the Appalachia region. The campaign's decision to send Vance there also signals their confidence in their chances. Virginia is a state that had been a swing state but has gone for Democrats in every presidential election since 2008.

In his speech at the Republican National Convention last week introducing himself to America, Vance spoke about “forgotten communities” where “jobs were sent overseas and children were sent to war.”

The 39-year-old Republican also leaned into his relative youth, contrasting Biden’s decades in government with the milestones in his own life. It’s not clear how Vance will shift his message toward Harris, whom many Democrats were lining up to support, or any other contender for the nomination.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who is seen as a potential Democratic vice presidential candidate, made a point of criticizing Vance for the way he has portrayed Kentucky and the region.

Vance was raised by his grandparents in Middletown, which is not in Appalachia, but spent a significant amount of time traveling to Kentucky with his grandparents to visit family. The senator has said he hopes to be buried in a small mountain cemetery there.

“He ain’t from here,” Beshear told The Associated Press.

The governor took issue with Vance's portrayals in his book of people in Kentucky and eastern Kentucky and suggestions that they were lazy or not motivated to work.

“You don’t get to just come in eastern Kentucky a couple of times in the summer and then maybe for weddings and a funeral and cast judgment on us. It’s offensive,” Beshear said.

Despite his presence on the primetime debate stage and his bestselling book, Vance is still working to introduce himself to voters.

A CNN poll conducted in late June found the majority of registered voters had never heard of Vance or had no opinion of him. Just 13% of registered voters said they had a favorable opinion of Vance and 20% had an unfavorable one, according to the poll.

After Vance was named as Trump’s running mate, a startling number of Republican delegates, who are typically party insiders and activists, said they didn’t know much about the senator.

In his hometown in Ohio, though, he was welcomed as a local star.

Zetta Davidson, 73, a longtime poll worker from Fairborn, Ohio, called it “a wonderful move” for Trump to pick Vance. “I think he’s honest, straightforward, and if it’s not right, he’ll rip it apart,” she said.

A 72-year-old retiree from Middletown, Randy Linville, called Vance an “excellent choice."

“No. 1, he’s young,” Linville said. "Mr. Trump is not that old, but he’s getting up there.”

Vance has served in the Senate for less than two years. He has morphed from being a harsh Trump critic, at one point likening him to Hitler, to becoming a staunch defender of the former president, hitting the campaign trail on his behalf and even joining him at his Manhattan criminal trial this summer.

Price reported from New York. Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024

This story has been corrected to reflect that state Sen. George Lang said Butler County, not Booker County, when referring to JD Vance.

Attendees wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Attendees wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School before Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School before Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, speaks at a campaign rally, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters wait in line to attend a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Members of the police department look on at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Members of the police department look on at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School as supporters arrive to attend a campaign rally with Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Police snipers stand atop Middletown High School as supporters arrive to attend a campaign rally with Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

A cardboard cutout of former first lady Melania Trump appears as supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

A cardboard cutout of former first lady Melania Trump appears as supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Supporters arrive at a campaign rally for Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, at Middletown High School, Monday, July 22, 2024, in Middletown, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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