Talks between Ukraine and Russia were marred by a lack of security guarantees, distrust of the Russian regime and the extent of brutality exposed when Russian troops left Kyiv.
Members of delegations from Ukraine and Russia on February 28, 2022. Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP
David Arahamiya, leader of the President's “Servant of the People” party and head of the Ukrainian delegation during last year’s talks with Russia, has revealed that Russia proposed ending the war in spring 2022 on the condition that Ukraine abandon its NATO aspirations and adopt a neutral stance.
“They really hoped almost to the last that they would put the squeeze on us to sign such an agreement so that we would take neutrality. It was the biggest thing for them,” Arahamiya said in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Natalia Moseychuk.
“They were ready to end the war if we took – as Finland once did – neutrality and made commitments that we would not join NATO. This was the key point,” he added.
Speaking further and explaining Kyiv's refusal to accept the proposal, Arakhamia said that it would require a constitutional change, given that Ukraine’s Constitution states its intention to become a NATO member. Additionally, he emphasized a lack of trust in the Russian position. "There is no, and there was no, trust in the Russians that they would do it. That could only be done if there were security guarantees."
Arahamiya clarified that signing such an agreement without guarantees would have left Ukraine vulnerable to a second incursion.
“They would have come in more prepared, because they came in, in fact, unprepared for such resistance,” Arakhamia said.
According to the lawmaker, while another round of talks was underway in Istanbul, Boris Johnson unexpectedly came to Kyiv on April 9 and said that Ukraine "shouldn't sign anything with them at all – and let's just fight."
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine took place during the early stages of the full-scale war, with negotiations held in Belarus and Turkey. Ukrainska Pravda reported how, at that stage, the Russian side expressed readiness for a meeting between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But discussions were interrupted after Russian troops withdrew from Kyiv, revealing the extent of crimes committed, committed, notably the Bucha massacre. Three days after Johnson's departure from Kyiv, Putin publicly stated that talks with Ukraine had “turned into a dead end.”
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