NewsUkrainian-Russian peace talk documents from 2022 published by The New York Times amid Putin's new "manipulative" treaty proposal

Ukrainian-Russian peace talk documents from 2022 published by The New York Times amid Putin's new "manipulative" treaty proposal

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15 June 2024 14:14

The American daily newspaper, the New York Times, published the entire project of the Ukrainian-Russian treaty from April 2022. The documents were created during negotiation sessions that took place from February to April 2022, a few weeks after the start of the war.

The war in Ukraine has been ongoing for over two years. The New York Times emphasizes that the negotiation sessions held just after the outbreak of the war "was the only time that Ukrainian and Russian officials are known to have engaged in direct peace talks." "The talks failed as both sides dug in on the battlefield," it writes further.

Vladimir Putin "offered" a peace proposal to Ukraine on Friday. It involved relinquishing a significant portion of the territory. "Ukrainian troops must completely withdraw from all the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and from the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Then negotiations will be possible," Vladimir Putin said during a Friday meeting with the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Currently, Ukraine demands the withdrawal of all Russian forces from its territory. Zelensky wants the borders to return to those established in 1991.

Ukrainian-Russian treaty project

The New York Times publishes the documents that were obtained in full. These are treaty drafts from 17 March and 15 April 2022, presenting competing proposals from both sides and points of agreement, and a private "communique" from personal talks in Istanbul on 29 March, which summarized the proposed agreement. The main points of the project:

  • The Kremlin initially wanted Ukraine to recognise Crimea as part of Russia. "Ukraine recognizes the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as an integral part (subjects) of the Russian Federation and, in this regard, shall make comprehensive changes to the national legislation." By 15 April, both sides agreed to exclude Crimea from their treaty, leaving it under Russian occupation but not recognised by Ukraine.
  • Ukraine proposed never joining NATO or other alliances. "Ukraine will not join any military alliances, will not host foreign bases and military contingents…" Ukrainian negotiators proposed renouncing NATO membership and accepting Russian occupation of parts of their territory. However, they refused to recognise Russia's sovereignty over them.
  • Russia demanded that Ukraine make Russian the official language. "Ukraine, within 30 (thirty) days after signing this Treaty, shall remove all restrictions on the use of the Russian language in any area in accordance with Annex 2."
  • Ukraine wanted its allies to be bound by a treaty to intervene if it is attacked again. For instance, by "closing airspace over Ukraine, providing necessary weapons, using armed forces in order to restore and subsequently maintain the security of Ukraine as a permanently neutral state."
  • Russia wanted Ukraine and all other signatories of the treaties to lift the sanctions imposed on Moscow since 2014 and publicly call other countries to do the same. "Ukraine shall cancel and henceforth not impose, and also shall publicly call on all states and international organizations to cancel and henceforth not impose, any and all sanctions and restrictive measures imposed since 2014 against the Russian Federation."
  • Ukraine was to give up its entire eastern Donbas and recognise Crimea as part of Russia. A seven-point list concerned Ukraine's national identity and included a ban on naming places after Ukrainian independence fighters. "Ukraine recognizes the independence of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic within the administrative boundaries of the former Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine and, in this regard, shall introduce comprehensive changes to the national legislation."
  • Russia withdrew its previous objections to Ukraine's full membership in the EU. "The parties to this Treaty agree that Ukraine's status as a permanently neutral state is consistent with, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, possible membership in the European Union."
  • Russia's ceasefire proposal stated that Ukraine would have to withdraw its troops from its territory. "Ukraine carries out the withdrawal (return) of units of its armed forces, other armed formations, weapons and military equipment to places of permanent deployment or to places agreed upon with the Russian Federation."
  • For Ukrainians, binding security guarantees were the basis of a potential peace agreement signed by many countries. For example, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, the United States, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Israel. "The Guarantor States and Ukraine agree that in the event of an armed attack on Ukraine, each of the Guarantor States … on the basis of a decision agreed upon by all Guarantor States, will provide … assistance to Ukraine, as a permanently neutral state under attack."

Breakthrough meeting in Istanbul?

On 29 March, representatives from Russia and Ukraine met in a palace on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Some viewed these talks as a breakthrough resulting from Russia's struggles on the battlefield. One member of the Ukrainian negotiating team stated that after every military failure, Putin "limited his demands."

In Istanbul, the Russians seemed to support the Ukrainian model of neutrality and security guarantees, placing less emphasis on their territorial demands. Ukraine summarised the proposed agreement in a two-page document called the Istanbul Communique, which it never published.

However, as The Times reports, Russian officials publicly sent mixed signals about whether the Kremlin was actually ready to sign the agreement.

Then, there was a departure from what Ukrainian negotiators said was discussed in Istanbul. "Russia inserted a clause saying that all guarantor states, including Russia, had to approve the response if Ukraine were attacked. In effect, Moscow could invade Ukraine again and then veto any military intervention on Ukraine’s behalf — a seemingly absurd condition that Kyiv quickly identified as a dealbreaker," the American daily describes.

Due to this change, a member of the Ukrainian negotiating team stated, "we had no interest in continuing the talks".

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