There is still the possibility of a diplomatic settlement that would bring an early end to this dreadful war and Russian military withdrawal while safeguarding the vital interests of Ukraine. Indeed, if the Russians are ever to withdraw, a diplomatic agreement on the terms of withdrawal will be necessary.
The first round of Ukrainian-Russian talks has now taken place in Belarus, and a member of the Ukrainian delegation has stated that “The parties identified a number of priority topics in which certain solutions were outlined”.
The West should back a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal by offering Russia the lifting of all new sanctions imposed on it. The offer to Ukraine should be a massive reconstruction package that will also help Ukraine to move towards the West economically and politically rather than militarily – just as Finland and Austria were able to do during the Cold War despite their neutral status.
The demands by the Russian side are that Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality; engage in “demilitarisation” and “denazification”; and recognise Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which was seized back by Russia after the Ukrainian Revolution. These demands are a mixed bag of the acceptable, the unacceptable, and the undefined.
Read the full article in The Guardian.