Putin takes hard line on Ukraine truce during Olympic Games

Requirement for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals a violation of Olympic principles, says Russian president

Russian president Vladimir Putin has rejected a call for a truce in the war in Ukraine during the Olympic Games, blaming the ban on Russian athletes competing under their flag. Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to China, he said that Chinese president Xi Jinping raised the issue of an Olympic truce during talks.

On a visit to Paris last week Mr Xi endorsed French president Emmanuel Macron’s call for a global truce during the Olympics. But Mr Putin said the requirement for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in the Games was a violation of Olympic principles.

“They are violating those principles with respect to us, but they want us to follow the same principles as they dictate them to us. Doesn’t that sound contradictory? Doesn’t that sound unjust? This is not a way to reach an agreement. If you demand something from someone, you have to follow the rules yourselves first,” he said.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy also expressed scepticism about the Olympic truce proposal on Friday, telling reporters it was unrealistic.


“A ceasefire would not prevent military hardware from getting closer and then turning the offensive on. I don’t understand the details. To me it sounds like an unviable story,” he said.

Mr Putin and Mr Xi discussed Ukraine during a meeting at Zhongnanhai, the Chinese Communist Party leadership’s compound in Beijing. Mr Xi repeated China’s support for a political settlement to the war and said he hoped to see peace talks involving Russia and Ukraine.

Switzerland will host a peace conference outside Lucerne next month but Russia has not been invited to take part. Mr Putin dismissed the conference, where the discussion will be based on Ukraine’s peace plan which calls for the withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory including Crimea.

“Now this peace formula is based on what? On their whims, not on the real situation. How can we discuss that?” he said.

“They just want to get as many countries as they can together. They want to convince them that the conditions presented by the Ukrainian side are the best ones and then they want to present us with this ultimatum: the entire world wants you to do this, agree to this. Is this a way to be engaged in serious, substantive talks?”

Mr Putin ended his visit to China in the northern city of Harbin, close to the Russian border, where he delivered the opening address at a Russia-China Expo. Trade between the two countries has grown since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 with Chinese goods replacing many European products in Russian shops while China bought energy from Russia at discount prices.

In a joint statement, Mr Xi and Mr Putin pledged to build on their economic relationship as well as deepen military co-operation. To blunt the impact of Western sanctions, they said they would increase the use of their currencies over the US dollar in bilateral trade.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times