UKRAINE WARA Solution to the Ukraine War Emerges

Published 16 March 2022

Russian and Ukrainian sources said that both sides now agree that the likely solution to the Ukraine crisis is a neutral Ukraine with its own armed forces, but which is not a member of NATO. The examples of Austria and Sweden have been proposed as models. The status of the Crimean Peninsula and the Donbass region is still a sticking point, but both sides say that the atmosphere in the negotiations has become more positive and constructive.

The Kremlin’s spokesperson said this morning (Wednesday, 16 March) that the talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials are examining the possibility of having a neutral Ukraine with its own army as a compromise way out of the current crisis.

He mentioned the countries of Austria and Sweden as models.

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of Vladimir Putin’s office, said: “This is a variant that is currently being discussed and which could really be seen as a compromise.”

Peskov stressed that the important issue for Russia was a NATO membership for Ukraine.

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia’s chief negotiator in the talks, said Ukraine had proposed such an arrangement. He told state television: “Ukraine is offering an Austrian or Swedish version of a neutral, demilitarized state, but at the same time a state with its own army and navy.”

Austria was occupied until 1955, and the Red Army withdrew from the country in exchange for Austria’s commitment to neutrality. The Austrian constitution prohibits the country from joining any military alliance or the stationing of foreign troops on Austrian territory.

Sweden has always considered itself a neutral, non-aligned country taking care of its own defense. In the early 1950s, Sweden was also a nuclear-weapons threshold state, but it decided not to cross that threshold.

Ukraine insists that in return for its abandonment of a NATO membership, its security should be guaranteed by international forces stationed on its territory.

Reuters reports that Ukraine’s lead negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said a model of legally binding security guarantees which would commit a group of allies to offer Ukraine protection in the event of a future attack was “on the negotiating table.”

What does this mean? A rigid agreement with a number of guarantor states undertaking clear legal obligations to actively prevent attacks,” he said on his Telegram channel.

This means that the signatories of the guarantees do not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as today,” he said, “but they take an active part on the side of Ukraine in the conflict and officially provide us with an immediate supply of the necessary amount of weapons.”

Russia has so far not accepted this part of the emerging deal.

Reuters reports that the atmosphere around the talks has become more positive after three weeks of war that have killed thousands of people and displaced several million Ukrainians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian RBC news that he, too, sensed a more positive and constructive atmosphere in the negotiations.