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There is a story, published by Seymour Hersh and picked up by Russian media, that Ukrainian General Valerii Zaluzhny and Russian General Valery Gerasimov are secretly negotiating a deal that could potentially end the Ukraine war.

The story is supported by “anonymous” sources, allegedly in the US intelligence establishment. The question is: Is the report true?

The Russian report on the Hersh story has disappeared.

What is true is that the relationship between Zaluzhny, the overall commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is very bad. So bad, in fact, that Zaluzhny did not show up on the last day of November for a meeting between Zelensky and his generals. On top of that, Zelensky is reported to have ordered Ukraine’s regional governors not to speak with Zaluzhny.

Given the estrangement between Zelensky and Zaluzhny, anything that Zaluzhny might or could negotiate should run into a Kiev brick wall.  Zelensky has made it clear that the Ukrainian government will not – nor, legally, can it (because of legislation prohibiting it) – negotiate with Moscow.

The Russian papers, following Hersh, say there are two broad conditions for a deal between the generals. The first is at least some kind of recognition by Ukraine of Russian control of the territory it currently occupies. The second, which seems altogether impossible, is that Russia would not object to Ukraine joining NATO provided there are no NATO bases in Ukraine.

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