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Peace on Russia's terms: What Kremlin offered Ukraine to end war

Peace on Russia's terms: What Kremlin offered Ukraine to end war Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has publicly hinted at his openness to discussing an end to the war in Ukraine on Moscow's terms. The contours of the agreement he reportedly seeks can be seen in a draft peace treaty drawn up by Russian and Ukrainian delegations in April 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The document, dated April 15, 2022, describes how negotiators on both sides sought to halt hostilities by agreeing to transform Ukraine into a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs, prohibiting it from rebuilding its armed forces with Western support, and leaving Crimea under Russia's de facto control.

However, reaching an agreement ultimately failed. The scale of Russian military crimes in Ukraine became evident, Ukraine's military position improved, and the West began supplying arms to support Kyiv.

Today, Ukraine asserts that it will not engage in peace talks until Russia withdraws its troops from the country. Two years of war have embittered Ukrainian public opinion against any peace deal, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that any cessation of hostilities would simply allow Russia to rearm and attack Ukraine more effectively in the future.

'Peace' terms proposed by Russia

The draft agreement stipulates that despite the possibility of EU accession, Ukraine will not be allowed to join military alliances like NATO. Foreign weapons will not be allowed on Ukrainian soil. Ukraine's armed forces will be reduced to a certain size. Russia sought to limit everything from troop numbers and tanks to the maximum range of Ukrainian rockets.

The Crimean Peninsula, already occupied by Russia, will remain under Moscow's influence and will not be considered neutral. Moscow also insisted that the Russian language be given equal status with Ukrainian in the government and courts, a provision not supported by Kyiv according to the document.

The issue of the future of eastern Ukraine, captured and occupied by Russia in 2014, was not included in the draft, leaving it to the discretion of Putin and Zelenskyy during personal negotiations.

Negotiations with Russia

In December, The New York Times reported that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin was allegedly sending signals to the West about his desire to freeze the war against Ukraine and start negotiations.

Two former high-ranking Russian officials close to the Kremlin, as well as American and international officials, said that Putin is proposing to freeze hostilities along current lines. Similar signals were reportedly sent by Putin a year earlier, in the fall of 2022.

According to Andrii Yusov, a representative of the General Staff of Ukraine, Moscow does indeed want to end the war as soon as possible, despite Russian propaganda statements. Ukraine wants the same but on its own terms and in accordance with international law.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War report that the Kremlin may use these signals to the West to allegedly be ready to pause the war against Ukraine in an attempt to reduce defensive assistance from partner countries. Experts recalled that similar manipulations by Russian dictator Putin have occurred before, particularly regarding negotiations.