Wide rift in Russia, Ukraine negotiations could mean drawn out war that favors Putin: experts say

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin are far apart at the negotiating table with both sides requesting concessions deemed non-starters by the other side which could be an advantage to Putin, experts tell Fox News.

Rebekah Koffler, a former U.S. intelligence agent and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital that Ukraine’s desire for a security agreement with other countries as a component of ending the war is a demand Russia will not agree to.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a cabinet meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a cabinet meeting via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. 
(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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“Putin is not going to go for that,” Koffler said, adding that her assessment is Ukraine is also unwilling to give in to Putin’s reported demand that Ukraine cede Crimea and the breakaway Donbas regions.

Shortly after Koffler spoke with Fox News Digital, Zelenskyy acknowledged that giving away Ukrainian territory to Russia was not an option he would consider.

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“We do not trade our territory,” Zelenskyy told Fox News’s Bret Baier via translator in an exclusive interview. “The question of territorial integrity and sovereignty is out of discussion.”

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, walks before a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, walks before a meeting with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

“The bottom line is that these positions are irreconcilable,” Koffler explained. 

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, President of the London Center for Policy Research, agreed with Koffler’s assessment that both sides are requesting nonstarters in the negotiation and told Fox News Digital that Putin will not accept Ukraine’s demand that a security agreement among major powers to protect Ukraine in the future be implemented. 

“I think you can see the Russians going on for another two weeks kind of repositioning things,” Shaffer said. “So I just don’t think they’re going to seriously negotiate until after they solidify what they’re doing, and they may well go back on the offensive at least one more time before it’s all done before they’re ready to really negotiate.”

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Additionally, Shaffer said that he does not believe Zelenskyy will acquiesce to any demand from Putin to give away territory.

I don’t,” Shaffer said when asked if he foresess Ukraine ceding land to Russia. “This is what Ukraine’s depending on for its future prosperity. So it’s really going to be important for Ukraine so no, I think this is a nonstarter for them as well.”

A dog is seen in the middle of a street as Ukrainian army soldiers take part of a military sweep to search for possible remnants of Russian troops after their withdrawal from villages in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 

A dog is seen in the middle of a street as Ukrainian army soldiers take part of a military sweep to search for possible remnants of Russian troops after their withdrawal from villages in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 1, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Both Shaffer and Koffler told Fox News that the impasse between the two sides benefits Putin who is prepared and more equipped for a drawn out conflict.

“This is going to be a long, drawn out, ongoing, protracted conflict and Putin can afford to do that,” Koffler said.

Shaffer told Fox News that Putin “absolutely” has the stomach for a drawn out conflict.

“Putin’s got a lot of capacity left,” Shaffer said. “He’s going to move things around so in any protracted conflict I think the advantage goes to Putin lacking any support of NATO expansion to Zelenskyy.”

Fox News anchor Bret Baier spoke with Zelenskyy on Friday and conveyed his belief after the interview that the Ukrainian leader is indeed concerned that Russia is digging in for a long battle. 

“The fear is that Russia will try to dig in and have fortified positions,” Baier said. “That they just stay and that without the heavy weaponry he can’t push them out effectively. That eventually, his biggest worry is that the West will forget about Ukraine and that they’ll turn the chapter and that Russia will take advantage of that.”

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