Russia will benefit from any ceasefire in Ukraine - ISW
The Kremlin pretends to be interested in making concessions regarding Ukraine's place in Western institutions, and any ceasefire at the front will benefit Russia
This is stated in a report by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Analysts noted that Russian demands for Ukrainian “neutrality” and a moratorium on NATO expansion have always been and continue to be one of Putin’s central justifications for his invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, any hypothetical concession on these demands would represent a major strategic and rhetorical retreat on Putin’s behalf that Putin is extremely unlikely to be considering at this time.
According to experts, Russian calls for Ukrainian “neutrality” are demands that Ukraine amend its constitution to remove commitments to seeking NATO membership and to commit itself permanently not to join NATO or the European Union.
The analysts emphasize that the demand for such a ”neutral status” are a nested goal within Putin’s decades-long effort to demand changes to the NATO alliance that would weaken the alliance to the point where it would be unable to deter or defeat future Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
At the same time, the report points out that Putin is unlikely to make concessions, as he will not stop pursuing his goal of controlling Ukraine and weakening NATO unless he suffers a decisive defeat.
"Russian actors may be feigning interest in offering concessions on Ukraine’s place in Western institutions in an effort to prompt preemptive Western concessions on Ukraine’s territorial integrity," - the report adds.
It is emphasized that reports about Putin’s openness to negotiations through back channels have not mentioned Russian openness to relinquishing any occupied Ukrainian territory. Russian officials continue to indicate that Putin’s maximalist objectives do not exclude Russia’s annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories or additional territorial conquests in Ukraine.
"Ukraine’s accession into the EU and NATO are long processes that would not unfold in the immediate aftermath of any negotiated ceasefire, and Russia may seek to temporarily feign acquiescing on these demands to more immediately solidify control of occupied territories," analysts say.
They add that ISW continues to assess that any ceasefire would benefit Russia, giving it time to reconstitute and regroup for future offensive campaigns in pursuit of the same maximalist objectives and further territorial conquest in Ukraine.
At the same time, the experts say that "there is no reason to assess that Putin would not renege on any commitment to permit Ukraine to integrate into Western political, economic, and military institutions as long as the Russian military can pursue his objectives to prevent Ukraine from doing so."
The day before, it was reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent a signal to the United States through indirect channels that he was open to discussing the war in Ukraine.