Retired U.S. General Mark Hertling dismissed Russia’s offer to negotiate over the war in Ukraine, even after Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed readiness to discuss solutions.
“On Christmas Eve Putin says he’s ‘ready to negotiate.’ Having ‘negotiated’ w/ Russian military & Defense Ministry I learned lessons: Even in small things, RU officials don’t negotiate…they demand, then they lie, and then they renege on agreements,” Hertling tweeted Sunday.
In a Christmas Day interview with Rossiya 1 state-television, Putin blamed Kyiv and its allies for refusing to engage in talks about ending the war in Ukraine that has been ongoing since February 24, Reuters reported.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them—we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” the Russian leader said.
Earlier on in the war, Moscow said it will continue to fight until all its goals in Ukraine are achieved, while the Eastern European nation remains determined to defeat Russian forces and take back all of its territories including Crimea, which Putin annexed in 2014.
Meanwhile, CIA Director William Burns echoed Hertling’s remarks this month when he told PBS News Hour that “most conflicts end in negotiations, but that requires a seriousness on the part of the Russians in this instance that I don’t think we see.”
“At least, it’s not our assessment that the Russians are serious at this point about a real negotiation,” Burns said.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, tweeted Sunday that Russia doesn’t want to negotiate.
“Putin needs to come back to reality.1. Russia single-handedly attacked Ukraine and is killing citizens. There are no other ‘countries, motives, geopolitics’ 2. Russia doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility. This is obvious, so we are moving to the Tribunal,” Podolyak wrote.
Though there still might not be an end to the war in sight, Russia seemed to have shifted its priorities several times since its invasion of Ukraine began. Earlier this month, the Kremlin decided to focus on its original goals of “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine instead of seizing territory. Putin has often referred to the Ukrainian government and its armed forces as neo-Nazis.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at the time that Russia has no plans to seize more territory from the war-torn country, and instead will direct its efforts to liberate the four territories it annexed in September—Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Foreign governments, including the United States, have said the annexations were illegitimate.
Last month, Russia withdrew its forces from Kherson, but continued to say that the territory is under control of the Russian Federation despite the lack of forces in the area.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign affairs ministry for comment.