President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia would be prepared to talk to Ukraine, the United States and Europe about the future of Ukraine if they wanted to, but that Moscow would defend its national interests.

Putin, who sent troops into Ukraine in 2022, has repeatedly said he would be prepared to talk about peace, though Western officials say he is waiting for the U.S. presidential election in November before making a genuine effort.

“In Ukraine, those who are aggressive towards Russia, and in Europe and in the United States – do they want to negotiate? Let them. But we will do it based on our national interests,” Putin told a meeting of the defence leadership in Moscow.

“We will not give up what is ours.”

Russia controls about 17.5% of the territory that was internationally recognised as part of Ukraine as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and last year said the four additional regions of Ukraine that its troops partially control are part of Russia.

Kyiv says it will not rest until every last Russian soldier is ejected from Ukraine.

Putin accused the United States of exploiting Europe for its own interests and said Russia planned no war on Europe.

He said Ukrainian membership of NATO “is not acceptable for Russia in 10 years, and not in 20”.