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Putin Pledges Ukraine Cease-Fire       06/14 06:13

   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.

   (AP) -- 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.

   Such a deal appears a nonstarter for Kyiv, which wants to join the military 
alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its 
territory. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine on Putin's proposal.

   "We will do it immediately," Putin said in a speech at the Russian Foreign 
Ministry in Moscow.

   His remarks came as leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized 
nations met in Italy and 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.

   Putin said his proposal is aimed at a "final resolution" of the conflict in 
Ukraine rather than "freezing it," and stressed that the Kremlin is "ready to 
start negotiations without delay."

   Broader demands for peace that the Russian leader listed included Ukraine's 
non-nuclear status, restrictions on its military force and protecting the 
interests of the Russian-speaking population in the country. All of these 
should become 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, restore the unity between Russia and Ukraine and in Europe in 
general," he said.

   Putin's remarks 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.

 
 
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