News Release

If Russia is to Withdraw, There Must be Negotiations


Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba have agreed to meet on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said, in what would be the first potential talks between the two since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24. See report from Al-Jazeera. Before the invasion began, on February 22, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken cancelled a planned meeting with Lavrov after Putin had recognized the breakaway republics.

ANATOL LIEVEN, via Jessica Rosenblum,, (202) 279-0005
Available for a limited number of interviews, Lieven is senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and just wrote the piece “It’s time to ask: what would a Ukraine-Russia peace deal look like?” published by The Guardian.

He writes: “If the Russians are ever to withdraw, a diplomatic agreement on the terms of withdrawal will be necessary.

“The West should back a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal by offering Russia the lifting of all new sanctions imposed on it. The offer to Ukraine should be a massive reconstruction package that will also help Ukraine to move towards the West economically and politically rather than militarily — just as Finland and Austria were able to do during the Cold War despite their neutral status.

“The demands by the Russian side are that Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality; engage in ‘demilitarisation’ and ‘denazification;’ and recognise Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which was seized back by Russia after the Ukrainian Revolution. These demands are a mixed bag of the acceptable, the unacceptable, and the undefined. …

“President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly hinted that a treaty of neutrality may be on offer; and he is right to do so. For two things have been made absolutely clear by this war: that Russia will fight to prevent Ukraine becoming a military ally of the West, and the West will not fight to defend Ukraine. In view of this, to keep open the possibility of an offer of NATO membership that NATO has no intention of ever honouring, and asking Ukrainians to die for this fiction, is worse than hypocritical.

“As to ‘demilitarisation’ and ‘denazification,’ the meaning and terms of these will have to be negotiated. Demilitarisation is obviously unacceptable if it means that Ukraine must unilaterally dissolve its armed forces; but the latest statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that Russia would accept a ban on missiles based in Ukraine. This could be modelled on a similar guarantee to the U.S. that ended the Cuba Missile Crisis. …

“Ukraine has already lost Crimea, and cannot recover it, as Serbia cannot recover Kosovo, without a bloody and unending war that in this case Ukraine would almost certainly lose. Our principle in all such disputes must be that the fate of the territories concerned must be decided by local democratic referenda under international supervision. This should also apply to the Donbas separatist republics.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
(202) 347-0020

March 8, 2022

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