This morning, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Ukraine’s neutral status is a serious point in the negotiations. According to him, this also concerns security guarantees for Ukraine. Lavrov says the negotiations are not easy, but there is hope for a compromise.
Reduce face loss
European security expert Lorian Kramp (Utrecht University) spoke of a positive signal. “You can see that Zelensky is clearly trying to open up an opportunity for a positive outcome. It could mean that the Ukrainian side is more confident, but it could also be that the two positions are moving a little more towards each other. It is important that both sides are there. They can come out without losing face water.”
Now that Zelensky has said he understands that NATO membership is not an option for his country, a major obstacle to a deal has been removed, according to Crump. “For Ukraine, it is important that it does not look like a capitulation. They do not want to send a signal that Putin will make his way if he drives his car with a group of tanks. It is tactical to say that the Russians are getting “more realistic,” rather than saying that Ukraine will comply with Russian demands. I think both are true, by the way.”
distance between the two sides
It is not clear where the scope in the negotiations. The warring parties rarely communicate about this. Bob Dean, Clingendael’s Eastern Europe expert, currently sees room in negotiations over Russia’s demand for a neutral Ukraine, which will not join NATO. As mentioned, Zelensky himself also indicated that this can be discussed, provided that the West provides security guarantees for Ukraine in the event of a neutral situation.
It is unlikely to reach an agreement on Russia’s demands to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, thereby separating the regions from Ukraine, as well as to accept the request for recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea.
“This really means that Ukraine is giving up parts of the country, and thus is giving up territories. I don’t think that is the most obvious scenario. And maybe that is also why Ukrainian negotiators are talking about ‘incompatible’ positions.”
The Prime Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia visited President Zelensky in Kyiv yesterday:
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