Putin will be feeling the sting of this latest Ukraine war milestone – but he’s still far from surrendering - analysis by Oliver Trapnell

Vladimir Putin

Putin will be feeling the sting of this latest Ukraine war milestone – but he’s still far from surrendering

Oliver Trapnell

By Oliver Trapnell

Published: 25/05/2024

- 08:08

Updated: 25/05/2024

- 08:09

Sources close to the Russian president have said Putin is ‘ready for a ceasefire’

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has today passed a grim milestone which will no doubt have been felt by the top brass sitting in their ivory tower at the Kremlin.

After more than 820 days of non-stop fighting, Putin’s men on the frontlines are bearing the full brunt of the war – a fact now reflected in recorded losses.

According to the Ukrainian Army’s General Staff, Russia’s personnel losses today passed 500,000 men – a grim and disturbing milestone in the conflict. If the figures are to be believed, the milestone equates to roughly 609 deaths per day, or 25 an hour and marks the largest ground conflict in Europe since World War Two.

However, there appeared to be hope of a possible ceasefire on Friday after one senior Russian source hinted that Putin could be ready to come to the negotiating table.

Ukrainian tank firing

Russia has lost 500,000 men according to the Ukrainian MoD


“Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” the source who has worked with Putin told Reuters.

Other sources told the news agency that any negotiated ceasefire would need to recognise Russia’s current battlefield lines and that if Kyiv and the West fail to respond, Putin is prepared to continue fighting.

They added that locking in the current battlefield frontlines during a ceasefire would be non-negotiable.

Although a ceasefire would give both sides a chance to breathe, it would also leave Russia in possession of substantial Ukrainian territory – albeit without full control.

Howitzer firing in Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen fire a self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops in a front line in Kharkiv region


Doing so would also fall short of Moscow’s self-set agenda when it claimed Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions for its own and signed them into Russia’s constitution.

Such an agreement would also be detrimental to Ukraine should Russia decide to reignite the conflict at a later date and would allow Russian forces to invade deeper into the country.

In a warning over the latest ceasefire update, Nataliya Bugayova, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, wrote on Twitter “that negotiations, ceasefires, and peace deals are not off-ramps but rather on-ramps for the Kremlin to renew its attack on Ukraine in the future under conditions that advantage Russia”.

She continued: “They are means to the same ends—full control of Ukraine and eradication of Ukraine’s statehood and identity.

“The Kremlin’s intent regarding Ukraine is maximalist, inflexible, and will not change in the foreseeable future.”

Volodimir Zelensky has ruled out a ceasfire

Volodimir Zelensky has ruled out a ceasfire


It should come as no surprise, that senior officials brushed off the ceasefire claims as “planted Kremlin disinformation to weaken support for Ukraine”, although the official line from Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was that Russia was open to dialogue to achieve its goals and that the Kremlin does not want “eternal war”.

Far from reinforcing the idea of a ceasefire, two of the Reuters sources suggested that Putin in fact believes he could sell a victory in Ukraine to the Russian people given the gains in the war so far. However, being able to rally more troops may prove to be challenging as Putin’s first mobilisation drive proved to be immensely unpopular for the president and drove hundreds of thousands of spooked Russians from the country.

\u200bRussian conscripts

Russian conscripts called up for military service


With the addition of generous payment rewards, Putin is banking on victory by utilising Russia’s large population to sustain the war effort and is certainly not ready to throw away all the gains he has made so far, especially after sacrificing 500,000 men to the Ukrainian meat grinder.

Oleg Ignatov, a senior analyst at The International Crisis Group, told GB News that even if there were a ceasefire, “Ukraine wouldn’t accept it anyway” as they have vehemently demanded the return of Russian-controlled territory.

In spite of what sources might say, the prospect of a ceasefire, or even peace talks, currently seems very remote despite the immense losses on the frontline.

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