Reuters: Putin is banking on huge energy prices and

Photo: Hepta – Pavel Bednyakov

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Vladimir Putin believes that skyrocketing energy prices and possible winter heating problems will force Europe to get Ukraine to accept a truce on Russia’s terms. The information was confirmed to Reuters by two sources close to the Kremlin.

“It will be a hard winter for the Europeans. We could see protests, riots. Some European leaders may think twice before continuing to help Ukraine and think the time has come for a deal,” said one of the sources close to the Russian authorities, who preferred to remain anonymous because she was not authorized to address the press.

She also stated that in order for Moscow to accept a peace agreement, it will want to obtain Ukraine’s neutrality and territorial concessions that include all of Donbas.

A second source said Moscow believes it has already seen a fracturing of European unity and expects the process to accelerate as winter approaches: “It will be very difficult if the war drags on into autumn and winter, so there are hopes that Ukrainians will demand that we make peace.”

The Kremlin has given no official response, but has so far denied using energy resources as a blackmail tool.

Russia relies again on “General Winter”

Ukraine’s allies, however, say they have no plans to capitulate, and U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity that they see no sign of hesitation from pro-Kiev.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated several times that it is impossible for Ukraine to accept the loss of territories. Moreover, polls show that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians think the same as Zelenskiy and support him.

The leader in Kyiv also said that he would not accept any freeze on the front, which would allow Russia to rebuild its forces and attack again.

“Ukraine will have to convince its Western backers that it can win and that it has the initiative. If they show they can push the Russians back and keep the momentum going, it will be a win,” said Neil Melvin, an analyst at the London-based RUSI think tank.

In his view, the performance of Ukrainian forces on the battlefield between now and winter will determine the direction of the war.

However, the longer the war drags on, the greater the risk of cracks appearing in the bloc of Ukraine’s allies.

“All economic factors are turning negative. It will be harder to motivate people who are trembling in their houses (to accept this compromise) if Ukraine doesn’t look like it can win,” Melvin added.

Tony Brenton, former British ambassador to Moscow, said for his part that the West could “at some point” “force the Ukrainians to accept some rather uncomfortable compromises” if their forces do not get a significant progress on the battlefield.

Brenton also believes the Russians could force “some sort of nuclear demonstration” if they risk a humiliating failure in Ukraine.