War in Ukraine: accept our conditions or prepare for the worst, Putin told Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned Kyiv that he should quickly accept Moscow’s terms or brace for the worst, adding ominously that Russia had barely begun its actions in the country.

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament, Putin accused Western allies of fueling the fighting, saying “the West wants to fight us to the last Ukrainian.”

“This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but it looks like everything is going in that direction,” he added.

Negotiation table

Putin said Russia was ready to start talks on a cessation of hostilities, saying “those who refuse to do so should know that the longer this goes on, the harder it will be for them to make a deal with us.”

“We hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield,” he said. “Let them try.”

The Kremlin has previously demanded that Kyiv recognize Russian sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula it annexed in 2014, as well as recognize the independence of Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow has also said in the past that it expects Ukraine to succumb to the situation on the ground, citing other land gains since Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24.

Control over the east

After failing to capture Kyiv and other major cities in northeastern Ukraine early on, the Russian military turned its attention to the eastern industrial heartland of Donbass, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

Earlier this week, the Russian military claimed control of the Luhansk region, one of the two regions that make up the Donbass, and that they were preparing to attack the other, Donetsk.

Moscow is expected to try to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea coast all the way to the Romanian border. If successful, this would deal a devastating blow to the Ukrainian economy and also create a corridor to the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria, where Russia maintains military forces.

Putin also reaffirmed his longstanding claim that the West is using the conflict in Ukraine to try to isolate and weaken Russia.

“They simply don’t need a country like Russia,” he said. “That’s why they used terrorism, separatism and internal destructive forces in our country.”

“The course of history cannot be stopped, and the attempts of the collective West to impose its own version of the world order are doomed to failure,” Putin added.