The draft 15-point peace plan between Russia and Ukraine

Of Stefano Montefiori

The draft agreement on which Ukraine and Russia are working looks promising, but is crossed with strong doubts about the real intentions of the Kremlin

– For the first time since the beginning of the war there is a hypothetical agreement between Russia and Ukraine. A 15-point plan which would be based on the neutrality of Ukraine and its already repeatedly renounced entry into NATO, in exchange for guarantees on its security entrusted to the United States, Great Britain or Turkey.

a path that might seem promising, but that crosses with the strong doubts about the real intentions of the Kremlin. Diplomatic efforts, which have never ceased from December to today, have met a heavy precedent. On the night of February 21, French President Macron, in one of his many phone calls with Putin, managed to snatch the Russian leader’s commitment to meet the American head of state Biden in an extreme attempt to save peace: three days after Putin unleashed the invasion of Ukraine.

As Russia continues to bomb military and civilian targets, such as the Mariupol theater where a thousand inhabitants had found refuge, negotiations between Ukrainian and Russian emissaries continue and Mykhailo Podolyak, a close adviser to Ukrainian President Zelensky, unveiled to the Financial Times
the terms of a possible agreement: Russia would return the conquered Ukrainian territories starting February 24namely the southern regions along the Azov Sea and the Black Sea and the northern areas around Kiev; Ukraine would recognize the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the independence of the two republics of Donbasswould continue to have its own army but with the obligation to remain outside military alliances and not to host foreign bases (which is already excluded by Ukrainian law).

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said yesterday that Ukraine’s neutrality could follow the model of Austria or Sweden. Both Vienna and Stockholm, moreover, in 1995 became part of the European Union, and are part of the common European defense system provided for by the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. The Ukrainian councilor Podolyak responded indirectly to Peskov by saying that he preferred a Ukrainian to Austrian or Swedish model: Russia borders Ukraine and after the 2014 invasion and the total war unleashed in recent weeks requires much stricter security guarantees. Speaking to the American Congress, President Zelensky evoked the birth of one new international alliance that could be called U24, a union for peace composed of countries that have the strength and the conscience to intervene and stop a conflict immediately, within 24 hours of its beginning.

Yesterday was also the day of first high-level meeting between the US and Russia since the outbreak of the war: Biden’s advisor for national securityJake Sullivan told Russian security council secretary Nikola Patrushev that if Russia is serious about diplomacy, it will prove it by stopping attacking Ukrainian cities. But, on the contrary, the bombing continues. The fear that the negotiations will serve Russia to buy time and reorganize itself, after the losses on the ground due to the unexpected Ukrainian resistance. Barring surprises, it is reasonable to expect in the coming weeks that the two paths will continue to run parallel: on the one hand the diplomatic efforts of Israel, Turkey and Europe and the direct negotiations for peace between Ukrainians and Russians, on the other a war that shows no signs of abating. intensity (as happened in the early 1970s for Vietnam: long negotiations between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho while the fighting continued).

The latest news on the war in Ukraine

Although the International Court of Justice in The Hague yesterday ordered Putin to immediately suspend military operations, the Kremlin leader seems determined to move forward – the operation is being carried out successfully, according to established plans, he said on TV -. and indeed he delivered a violent speech on the need for purify Russian society from the enemy’s fifth columnphrases that suggest the determination to use war to reunite the home front. Biden qualifies Putin as a war criminal and the Russian flag is lowered in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The peace negotiations give hope but the question remains whether the Kremlin’s word is worth anything.

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