Neutral Status for Ukraine Remains Conceivable
A neutral status remains conceivable for Ukraine – but only under certain conditions, as the country emphasized again during negotiations in Istanbul. Russia promised less military activity around Kyiv.
After the first direct talks with Russian representatives, Ukraine remains willing to agree to a neutral status. However, such a step is subject to conditions.
After the end of the negotiations in Istanbul, the Ukrainian negotiators again demanded an end to hostilities in their country, a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the possibility for the population who had fled abroad to be able to return to their homeland. In addition, Ukraine wants to obtain security guarantees from other countries. The country’s representatives see Turkey, Canada, Poland and Israel as possible states that could provide security guarantees for Ukraine. In such a case, the Ukrainian government is ready to agree to its own neutrality.
The status of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 and that of the separatist areas of Donetsk and Luhansk apparently remain a point of contention. Concerning Crimea, the Ukrainian negotiators stressed that their country would recognize the borders from 1991 – that is, from when a majority of the population voted in a referendum for Ukraine’s independence. The Ukrainian representatives emphasized that in the future Ukrainian law must continue to apply on the peninsula – even if Russia sees it differently. It was proposed to the Russian side to fix the status of Crimea for a period of 15 years.
The negotiations should now be continued – the Ukrainian side gave a time frame of two weeks. At the same time, however, talks were already being held with possible guarantor states to finally conclude the negotiations at a multilateral level. From Ukraine’s point of view, a direct meeting between its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin should take place much sooner so that agreements can be reached “at the highest level”.