Where Putin’s Pro-Peace Opponent Stands on Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “pro-peace” presidential election challenger Boris Nadezhdin apparently agrees with Putin on the status of Crimea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly vowed to take back the disputed peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, before the end of his country’s nearly two-year war with Moscow.

Nadezhdin, a former State Duma member who openly opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine, said during a recent interview with German news network Deutsche Welle that it is “absolutely impossible” for Zelensky to achieve his goal.

The presidential hopeful made the remarks while detailing his plan to offer Ukraine a ceasefire and take immediate steps to end the war if he pulls off a major upset by defeating Putin in the election, which is set for next month.

Russian presidential candidate Boris Nadezhdin is pictured outside his home in Dolgoprudnyy on January 24, 2024. Nadezhdin said during a recent German television interview that it is “absolutely impossible” for Russia to return control of…


“On the very first day … I will propose to Ukraine, the leadership of Ukraine, the leadership of America and all European countries … to do two things,” Nadezhdin said, according to a translation from Ukrainian internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko.

“The first can be done quickly,” he continued. “[A] ceasefire. Stop shooting, so that missiles and shells don’t hit either Belgorod or Kharkiv, and people don’t kill each other … We can agree on a ceasefire format in a few days.”

Nadezhdin said that the second item on his immediate agenda would be “much harder” to achieve—peace negotiations, which he insisted could not include the possibility of Ukraine being allowed to take back Crimea.

“It’s going to be a long story, for several years,” said Nadezhdin. “The participants in the conflict are diametrically opposed. The Ukrainians want to liberate and return to Crimea militarily, which in my opinion is absolutely impossible.”

“That’s a position that the president of Russia… certainly cannot accept,” he added. “This is 100 percent, unfortunately. So the negotiations will be long.”

Newsweek reached out for comment to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email on Tuesday night.

Zelensky has repeatedly stated that the war “will end with Crimea.” Experts with ties to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry previously told Newsweek that Kyiv is pursuing a strategy to “demilitarize” Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as part of a plan to eventually liberate Crimea.

Regardless of his position on the war, Nadezhdin’s chances of actually seizing power from Putin in March look slim. The current Russian president continues to hold a commanding polling lead over all challengers, although experts have long questioned the integrity of polling and elections in Russia.

Nadezhdin’s candidacy may also be in doubt due to Moscow’s Central Election Commission claiming on Monday that it suspects some of the more than 100,000 signatures he collected to appear on the ballot were “defective.” Nadezhdin has vowed to launch an appeal if his name is removed.

Last week, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov suggested that Nadezhdin’s challenge of Putin might be a deadly mistake, predicting that the candidate backed by Russia’s center-right Civic Initiative Party would be poisoned or “spend his older years in prison.”