The media are still banging the war drums but representatives of Ukraine and Russia were meeting again today (March 14) – and the agenda was a way to restore peace.
According to a BBC report here,
Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak says both sides have now laid out their positions.
Earlier he said the latest talks would focus on establishing a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and security guarantees for Ukraine.
The pundits on Politics Live also mentioned the talks, saying they need to provide a way for Russia to withdraw with dignity, saying it has won something from what its leaders thought would be a walkover but turned into a wreck.
Nobody has talked much about peace possibilities so This Writer hesitates to bring forward suggestions that may seem naive. But we have to start somewhere – right?
So how about this:
- Ukraine agrees not to join Nato – but to negotiate a special status with that organisation such that, if Ukraine’s borders are violated in the future, Nato would act as an ally and step in. This would provide Russia with the buffer between itself and Nato nations that Vladimir Putin wanted, while offering Ukraine the security that Volodymyr Zelenskyy demands.
- Ukraine and Russia agree that the breakaway eastern regions hold referenda on their future – possibly a series of votes on whether to remain in Ukraine or become autonomous, and on whether to merge with Russia. All parties to abide by the result. Incursions into these regions by (allegedly Nazi) military or paramilitary groups to cease, with breaches being policed by a coalition of Ukraine and whoever governs the affected region.
- Ukraine relinquishes any claim on the Crimea (or at least the vast majority of it that is inhabited by Russians.
- Russia agrees to help repair the damage done to Ukraine by its invasion.
Would that be a good starting-point?
I am concerned that the same official who reported on the talks (above) has tweeted the following unhelpful message:
The parties actively express their specified positions. Communication is being held yet it’s hard. The reason for the discord is too different political systems. 🇺🇦 is a free dialogue within the society & an obligatory consensus. 🇷🇺 is an ultimatum suppression of its own society pic.twitter.com/O00fnCd1WP
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) March 14, 2022
I don’t see how a discussion of the different countries’ political systems helps deal with the practical matters at issue here.
The questions involve what each country wants and how they can achieve the best compromise that can’t be seen to harm either of them – not whether their politics are good or bad. That is a matter for each nation’s people to decide.
I hope an agreement can be reached but I fear it will be difficult to get past the negotiators’ entrenched opinions.
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