Bad news for an early agreement that could end the war between Russia and Ukraine arrived on Sunday. Like a bucket of cold water in optimism, the accuracy shown by Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, meaning that Russia’s position has not changed: there will be no peace if Ukraine does not accept that Crimea no longer belongs to it. It also does not recognize the independence of Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk regions).
Negotiations resumed after the last direct meeting of delegations in Istanbul, by videoconference, the previous Friday and will continue on Monday, but everything seems to indicate that for President Vladimir Putin, it is not enough for Ukraine to agree to be “neutral, denuclearized” And not isolated”, to order a ceasefire, meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, and set with him the terms of a peace agreement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday that the draft peace treaty “does not yet contain the main points that make a summit between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents possible.”
Medinsky, when he announced to the Russian news agency Interfax, that David Aragamia, the representative in the negotiations of the Ukrainian ruling party Servant of the People, did not participate in his optimism, who said that “a peace agreement is ready. To be discussed by presidents” and that in exchange for declaring itself neutral, Ukraine could Get guarantees that they will not be attacked by anyone.
Regarding the draft agreement that is said to be ready for a presidential summit, unfortunately I do not share Aragamia’s optimism. We still have a lot of work to do and I see that the Ukrainian diplomatic and military services, as I see them, lag far behind in fulfilling the understandings reached at the political level (at the Istanbul meeting), ”said Medinsky.
Russia considers, in the words of Medinsky, that in the negotiations it was possible to fulfill the demands formulated by Russia since 2014, in particular “the neutral, non-aligned and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, the prohibition of the establishment of foreign bases, to allow the presence of foreign forces or any kind of offensive weapons ” .
In this sense, he stressed, “We see that the Ukrainian side now has a more realistic approach in this regard,” but stressed that “Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas is consistent.”
So far, if not forever, Crimea and Donbass are disagreements that the Kremlin sees as finally resolved, especially the peninsula’s strategic membership in the Russian Federation.
Kyiv’s willingness to assume neutrality, under certain security guarantees from a dozen countries, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, that would forever close the doors to Ukraine’s hypothetical entry into NATO and, therefore, put an end to what Moscow calls it its main threat, Russia considers it a success and does not oppose it being one of the understandings that can be set, as a legally binding obligation for both parties, in the peace agreement.
However, as long as Kyiv does not succumb to other Russian demands, Moscow is clear that the war will not stop. And in the end, in order to end the bloodshed, it will be easier to interpret the “disarmament” and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, which are intentionally ill-defined concepts, as achieved goals, since the Crimea in the Kremlin is not negotiable.
Therefore, it is difficult for Ukraine’s proposal to declare some kind of a fifteen-year moratorium where neither Kyiv nor Moscow will try to solve the future of the peninsula by military means, while the heads of the two countries decide what to do with Crimea, and when Russia has already said so actively and passively It is nothing to discuss about what it has been defending as an entity of the Russian Federation since 2014.
Nor can the Kremlin be content with Zelensky’s idea of subjecting any agreement reached with Russia to a referendum, not just because of the time it would take to organize it across the country and because of the impossibility of a free and democratic vote. In the middle of the war.
Zelensky understands that “Russia cannot be forced to return all Ukrainian lands” (he has stated this on several occasions), but “it is necessary to find a compromise formula” that will allow finding a solution to the complex problem of Donbass.
The Ukrainian president, without saying it explicitly, indicates that if the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk agreed to remain part of Ukraine, as stipulated in the already buried Minsk agreements, a kind of confederation could be negotiated. At the moment, Russia only wants all of Donbass (and not just the 30 percent that were so-called people’s republics on February 24 when Russian forces invaded Ukraine) to be considered by Kyiv an “independent region”.
If this ever happens, the Kremlin will seek to force Kyiv to negotiate directly with the rulers of Donishk and Luhansk — which has not been possible in the last eight years because Ukraine says they are imposed by Moscow — an agreement that would bypass the borders of Donbass. In effect, the country will be divided into two parts.
Meanwhile, after the initial plan to overthrow Zelensky’s government failed in a blitzkrieg, the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region and northern Ukraine signals a regrouping of forces on the country’s eastern front. Ukrainians have access to the sea, Azov and Lions.
If this is achieved, although the campaign may take months, Ukraine will have to accept, as a constant condition for the end of the war, that Crimea does not belong to it nor does it belong to it, not the Donbass, but half of the southeastern regions of the country. They were previously believed to be pro-Russian.