With entering 11 months, as the War in Ukraine is still ongoing, the both sides, Russia and Ukraine are tossing conditions and terms in order to end the war.
From his, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky set 10 conditions for ending the war, while Russia announced its conditions as well.
Most observers and strategic analysts, and even military officials, believe that the current winter is the last chance to stop the war in Ukraine before it turns into a protracted conflict that claims millions of lives, as victory for either side in the field is almost impossible, which raises questions about the future of the geopolitical conflict whose fragments hit catastrophic all countries of the world.
As the Russian attack, which Moscow describes as a “special military operation” while the West describes it as an “unjustified aggressive invasion,” has entered its eleventh month without indications of an imminent peace agreement to end the largest war in Europe since World War II.
What are the 10 conditions set by Zelensky?
Zelensky’s plan to end the war, include 10 points that the Ukrainian president continues to promote enthusiastically after he discussed it with the US president Joe Biden and other Western leaders, even urging world leaders to convene a global peace summit to build on.
Zelensky had announced the broad outlines of his peace plan at the international summit held in Indonesia in November of the G20 major economic countries.
The Ukrainian plan to end the war consists of the following items:
- Safety from nuclear and radiological materials, which includes a focus on restoring security around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s Zaporizhia, which is now occupied by Russia.
- Food security; this item includes protecting Ukrainian grain exports to poor countries in the world and ensuring their continuity.
- Energy security, which includes continuing to impose price restrictions on Russian energy resources, and helping Ukraine restore its energy infrastructure, especially since half of it has been damaged by Russian attacks.
- The release of all prisoners and displaced persons, including prisoners of war and children deported to Russia.
- Restoring the Ukrainian territorial integrity, and Russia’s recognition of that in accordance with the United Nations Charter, which Zelensky said is not subject to negotiation.
- The withdrawal of Russian forces, the cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of the borders of the Ukrainian state with Russia.
- Enforcement of justice, which includes setting up a special tribunal to try those responsible for Russian war crimes.
- Addressing ecocide, which includes protecting the environment, with a focus on demining and restoring water treatment facilities.
- Preventing the escalation of the conflict, and building a security structure for the Euro-Atlantic space, which includes security guarantees for Ukraine.
- Certification of the end of the war, including a document signed by the concerned parties.
What about Russia’s conditions?
For its part, Russia rejected Zelensky’s proposed peace plan and Moscow confirmed that it wouldn’t give up any territories it had seized by force.
The Russian TASS news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying on Monday, December 26: “The enemy knows very well our proposals for disarmament and the elimination of Nazism… In the lands controlled by the regime and remove the threats emanating from there to the security of Russia, including our new lands”.
“It’s simple: do it for your own good, or the Russian army will decide it,” Lavrov added, repeating Moscow’s view that Ukraine is a tool of the West bent on weakening Russia or even destroying it.
The Russian conditions for stopping the war revolve, in general, around basic provisions, including amending the Ukrainian constitution to include renouncing joining any military bloc, stopping military operations, and recognizing Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia as Russian lands.
As well as the disarmament of all kinds of weapons in Ukraine and the elimination of “Nazism, nationalism and chauvinism” tendencies in it.
Some Russian observers say that the Kremlin’s conditions have within them advantages that are not directly mentioned, but that reinforce the basic conditions and give an additional margin for maneuver to the Russian negotiating team.
The Russian position seeks to achieve demands:
- The recognition of the sovereignty and independence of the five regions that joined Russia in 2014 and 2022 as constituent parts of the Russian Federation, and thus Kyiv’s recognition of the emerging new borders.
- Moscow also wants Ukraine to give up the possession and deployment of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery from foreign countries, and to refrain from establishing foreign bases on its territory, and to include this in the Ukrainian constitution.
- Ukraine won’t fire at nuclear power plants or civilian facilities that use radioactive materials for scientific purposes, and refrain from acquiring any types of foreign missile defense systems or any hypersonic systems.
- Disbanding all “neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist” groups and formations on the territory of Ukraine, and limiting the number of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to a total of 50,000 personnel from the land, air and sea forces.
- Depriving Ukraine of the possibility of launching a large-scale aggression or attack on neighboring countries, for example, Russia and Belarus.
- Ensure that the Ukrainian side pays compensation to all citizens of the Russian Federation, including the five new oblasts, for loss of life, injury, partial or complete destruction of their homes, as well as critical infrastructure, starting from the end of February 2014.
- Kyiv will pay off all debts and financial, commercial and economic loans that have been borrowed from Russia since 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
What about the US position, and what does that means?
During Zelensky’s visit to Washington on December 22, Biden limited himself in his public statements to saying that he and Zelensky “share the same vision of peace” and that the United States was committed to ensuring that Ukraine could defend itself.
However, the Biden administration continues to provide massive military aid to Ukraine, and recently agreed to supply Kyiv with Patriot air defense systems, and Congress approved a new aid package worth about $45 billion, in addition to more than another $50 billion already sent to Ukraine, which indicates the war may not end soon.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin had accused Washington, and the West in general, of refusing to negotiate an end to the war, and stressed that his country would eventually achieve its goals: “I think we are moving in the right direction, defending our national interests and the interests of our citizens and our people… We’ve no other choice but to protect our citizens”.
Putin added that the West started the conflict in Ukraine in 2014 when it overthrew the pro-Russian president in protests known as the Maidan so called Revolution.
Soon after, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and Moscow-backed separatist forces began fighting against Ukrainian armed forces in the east of the country.
“In fact, the essential thing here is that the policy of our political opponents is aimed at destroying Russia, historical Russia,” Putin said.
The Russian president portrays his country’s moves in Ukraine as a “special military operation,” and that it was a defining moment when Moscow finally decided to confront a Western bloc that it says has been seeking to destroy Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Putin’s speech evokes the roots of the Ukrainian crisis, which is essentially a geopolitical crisis that erupted nearly two decades ago.
How does it want to become part of the Western camp and join NATO, while Moscow sees this as a direct threat to its national security, and Washington has made a promise to the Kremlin Three decades ago, that NATO wouldn’t expand eastward in Europe, which of course did not happen, as the Western alliance expanded eastward by more than 965 km.
The Ukrainian constitution itself, and since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine’s independence in 1991, had stipulated that “Ukraine is a neutral country,” but that description was changed in the constitution in 2019 to open the door for Kyiv to integrate more with the Western camp and join the European Union and NATO.
The current Ukrainian president rejects the idea of neutrality and believes that the only guarantee for Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity in the face of what he sees as Russian ambitions lies in joining NATO, so that his country enjoys the umbrella of Western protection.
However, the Russian forces’ invasion of Ukraine shuffled the cards for the president, who had nothing to do with politics a few years ago.
Zelensky was a comedian and his relationship with politics began as a matter of art since 2015, when he began presenting works criticizing the political situation in Ukraine, especially the rampant corruption in the country, as Ukraine is classified as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Zelensky presented a comedy series entitled “Servant of the People,” in which he played a secondary school history teacher with a bold personality who criticizes corruption in Ukraine and mocks politicians and the business class.
The series achieved enormous popularity, and Zelensky turned it, under the auspices of a senior Ukrainian businessman, into a political party with the same name “Servant of the People,” and he ran in the 2019 presidential elections to win it with a large majority.
If the West will continue its current strategy of supporting Ukraine to ensure that Russia doesn’t achieve a decisive victory on the battlefield, then the Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley, recently emphasized the impossibility of the Ukrainian army achieving a military victory as well, which means that failure to reach a peace agreement during the current winter may lead to a prolonged and bitter conflict.
In light of the wide gap between Zelensky’s terms of peace and Russia’s demands to stop the war, this bad scenario for all parties seems to be the most likely so far.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has declared that the possibility of holding peace talks anytime soon is slim.
“I see that the military confrontation will continue, and I think we still have to wait for a time when serious negotiations for peace can take place,” Guterres said.