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Putin pledges Ukraine ceasefire if Kyiv withdraws troops

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to “immediately” order a ceasefire in Ukraine and begin negotiations if Kyiv starts to withdraw troops from the four occupied Ukrainian regions and renounces plans to join Nato.

Such a deal appears a non-starter for Kyiv, which wants to join the military alliance and has demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from all of its territory.

“We will do it immediately,” Mr Putin said in a speech at the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow.

His remarks came as leaders of the G7 leaders met in Italy and as Switzerland prepared to host scores of world leaders this weekend to try to map out first steps toward peace in Ukraine.

Mr 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.

“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,” Mr Putin said.

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