Russia has sent backchannel indicators to US officials suggesting Vladimir Putin may be open to negotiating an end to the war in Ukraine, according to reports — but experts cautioned the supposed negotiations could merely be a Russian ploy to drive a wedge between Ukraine’s allies.

The signals were sent to senior US officials at some point last month, two sources close to the Kremlin told Bloomberg. The missives reportedly indicated Putin could be willing to drop his long-held staunch resistance to Ukraine joining NATO in order to end the war.

In return, however, Russia would require that the Kremlin maintain control over territory it has taken from Ukraine since its invasion began in February 2022 — around 18% of the country at present — something which Kyiv has been adamantly opposed to.

“President Putin has stated numerous times that Russia was, is and will continue to be open for negotiations on Ukraine,” a Kremlin spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Reports say Vladimir Putin could be willing to let Ukraine join NATO in return for keeping territory captured since 2022 POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The spokesperson added that Russia preferred ending the war by “diplomatic means” but was willing to continue with force.

Despite the reports, US officials have denied receiving any such messages, backchannel signals, or indications from Russia.

“We are unaware of the shifts in Russia’s position described,” a National Security Council said, noting it was not the United States’ place to negotiate the terms of Ukraine’s war.

“It will be up to Ukraine to decide whether, when and how to negotiate with Russia.”

A Ukrainian church destroyed in the flighting. Ukrainian troops have been rationing ammunition as supplies dwindle Getty Images

Former White House Aide Fiona Hill thinks the rumors look like a “classic Russian play” to undermine Ukraine’s faith in its allies by making it appear they are going behind their backs to negotiate their own terms.

“It benefits [Russia] for everyone to think that there’s a back channel and it’s so secret no one can figure it out because it scares the hell out of the Ukrainians,” Hill told Bloomberg.

“The Russians want us to create this idea that the channel is there and that everything depends on the US so no one or nothing else plays a role,” she said. 

Similar rumors have also been floating around diplomatic circles in Europe, Bloomberg reported.

Experts think the reports of Russian negotiations may be intended to undermine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ZUMAPRESS.com

Whatever the veracity of the claims, they come at a pointedly critical juncture in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

Some Ukrainian military units have been forced to begin rationing their ammunition as supplies run dangerously low amidst squabbles in the US over its next aid package.

President Biden requested $61.4 billion in aid for Ukraine on top of a wider $106 billion national security funding proposal back in October, but negotiations have been stalled for months by conservatives who feel those funds could be better spent shoring up the southern US border.

As Ukrainian supplies dwindle during harsh winter fighting, Russia is throwing the might of its massive nation behind the war — spending about 40% of its national budget on the military — and even reaching into its old Soviet-era weaponry to supplement the front lines.

“The ratio is about 10 to 1,” a Ukrainian officer serving in the 93rd Mechanized Brigade told CNN, comparing Russia’s munitions output to Ukraine’s.

“Russia is a country that produces ammo, and they have strategic reserves. Yes, they use old Soviet systems. But Soviet systems can still kill.”

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