Ukraine Sets Conditions for Mediators in Russia Talks

Ukraine’s presidential aide Mikhail Podolyak has stated that any rhetoric about an “immediate ceasefire” is unacceptable.

Ukraine is willing to convey its terms for peace talks with Russia through third parties, but potential mediators must ensure their public statements align with Kyiv’s stance, according to Podolyak. Earlier this week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban embarked on a “peacekeeping mission,” proposing a “quick ceasefire” to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky during his visit to Kyiv. Orban subsequently traveled to Moscow to discuss the conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that Orban visited Russia “without approval or coordination with Ukraine.” During a national telethon on Saturday, Podolyak asserted that mediators should “behave differently.”

“Any country serious about mediation will not publicly make banal statements. When they say ‘we support an immediate ceasefire,’ it shows they are not ready for a mediation mission. Big wars require a different approach,” Podolyak said, as cited by RBK news outlet, without explicitly naming Orban.

Moscow’s and Kyiv’s positions remain “far apart,” according to Orban, who acknowledged that Zelensky “didn’t like” his proposals. However, the Hungarian PM emphasized that establishing contact was the “most important step” and pledged to “work on this in the future.”

Following his meeting with Orban, Putin reiterated Russia’s willingness to resolve hostilities through negotiations but noted that the Ukrainian leadership appears committed to waging war “until the end.”

Putin stated that “Russia favors a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” but opposed a ceasefire or pause that Kyiv could exploit to recover, regroup, and rearm.

The Russian president maintained that the conflict can only end if several conditions are met, including Kyiv withdrawing its forces from Donbas and the former Ukrainian regions of Zaporozhye and Kherson, which became part of Russia following public referendums. Other conditions exist, Putin added, but they would be detailed during potential joint work.

Previously, Putin proposed an immediate ceasefire on the condition that Ukraine withdraws its forces, recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over the territories, and provides legally binding guarantees of not seeking NATO membership. Kyiv and its Western backers have rejected the plan, although Putin asserted that the offer remains “on the table.”