Zelenskyy Rejects Putin's Peace Offer, Says It Looks More Like An 'Ultimatum'; Compares Russian President To Hitler

“What Putin demands is to give them a part of our territories, those occupied and not occupied, talking about several regions of our country," Zelenskyy said.

L: Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy | R: Russian President Vladimir Putin Photo: AP

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday rejected Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's ceasefire offer and called it an ultimate by the latter to surrender more territory.

Putin, in his offer, promised to "immediately" order a ceasefire in Ukraine and start negotiations if Kyiv withdrew its troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and dropped plans to join NATO.

The Russian leader's proposal came in the backdrop of upcoming peace summit, which Switzerland is set to host for a score of world leaders, to try and map out the first steps towards peace in Ukraine.

This also coincided with G7 meeting in Italy, where the US and Ukraine signed a 10-year security agreement, which was also denounced as "null and void" by Putin and other Russian officials.

Putin slammed the Switzerland conference as well, calling it to be "just another ploy to divert everyone's attention, reverse the cause and effect of the Ukrainian crisis and set the discussions on the wrong track."

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy at G7 said that Putin's proposal was not new and rather was in the form of an "ultimatum", comparing the latter's actions of seizing territory to that of Adolf Hitler.

“What Putin demands is to give them a part of our territories, those occupied and not occupied, talking about several regions of our country,” he said.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry termed Putin's offer to be "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 UN Charter."

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

Russia launched a full-scale invasion into Ukraine in February 2022. After Ukrainian troops thwarted Russia's attempt to the capital, much of the fight has been in the south and eastern regions, where Moscow illegally annexed four regions.

Zelenskyy's advisor Mykhailo Podolyak also said that the Putin's offer was nothing new, adding that the Russian leader "voiced only the standard aggressor's set which has been heard many times already".

In a post on X, Podolyak said, "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."

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also condemned Putin's plan and said that he "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".

Noting that Russia started a war without any provocation, Austin said that Putin "could end it today if he chose to do that"

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stolten berg said that Putin's proposal is "not a peace proposal. This is a proposal of more aggression, more occupation, and it demonstrates in a way that Russia's aim is to control Ukraine".

Notably, the Russian President -- in his offer -- insisted that Kyiv should withdraw from all four annexed regions and cede them to Moscow within their administrative border limits.

He said that if "Kyiv and Western capitals" reject his offer, "it is their business, their political and moral responsibility for continuing the bloodshed".

Putin also claimed that his troops had never intended on storming the Ukranian capital of Kyiv. “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.

Notably, Moscow had withdrawn from Kyiv in March 2022 as a 'goodwill gesture' as peace talks between the two nations began.

The Ukranian military meanwhile has been up on its foot again in the recent months, with its troops outnumbered by those of Kremlin's and running short of ammunition and weaponry due to delays in promised Western military aid.

Russia has been battering Ukraine with drones, killing and injuring several thousand people. Russia on Friday also returned the bodies of 254 soldiers to Ukraine.

(With AP inputs)