sachs357_ Ukrainian PresidencyHandoutAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_zelensky Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Time to Talk Peace Terms with Russia

The US and NATO have not spoken publicly about a final diplomatic settlement in Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, understandably focused on maintaining national unity, has publicly stated its positions only in somewhat contradictory bits and pieces. But it is time to outline what peace would look like.

NEW YORK – On March 7, Russia stated three aims for its invasion of Ukraine: official Ukrainian neutrality, recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, and recognition of the independence of pro-Russian separatist regions in Luhansk and Donetsk. The United States and NATO have not spoken publicly about a final diplomatic settlement, and, with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government focused on maintaining national unity and armed resistance to Russia, Ukraine has publicly stated its positions only in somewhat contradictory bits and pieces. But Zelensky, in consultation with the US and Europe, which are backing Ukraine’s war-fighting capacity, should formulate and state what a reasonable peace settlement would look like.

Here, in my view, is what Ukraine’s government should say. First, Ukrainian neutrality is not only acceptable but prudent if the negotiated peace settlement offers sufficient security guarantees. Neutrality will help to keep NATO and Russia separated – a positive good for all parties, and for the world. Ukraine can thrive as a non-NATO country, just as Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Finland, and Sweden thrive.

But who would guarantee this neutrality? In my view, the UN Security Council should do so, including by the deployment of an international peacekeeping force. Bringing China into this agreement would be stabilizing. China is being harmed by this war, yet agrees with Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement and opposes similar US-led alliance politics in Asia. China, in my estimation, would therefore support a peace agreement linked to NATO non-enlargement, and would most likely encourage Russia to accept it.

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