An aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it would be “relatively easy” to find common ground on some issues, such as NATO membership and the use of Russian as a regional language, to end the war with Russia — but any Talk about giving up territory, it’s “I’m not going anywhere.”
Alexander Rodnyansky spoke to POLITICO’s London Playbook as Russia’s bombing of Ukraine entered its fourth week. Foreign Minister of Turkey claims On Sunday, the two sides moved closer to an agreement on “critical” issues as part of peace talks.
Rodnyansky said he believes it will be “relatively easy” to agree on some areas of the negotiations but much more difficult on others, such as the territorial integrity of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Russian-backed separatists have tried to break away.
“The question of neutrality is something where we can find compromises in the sense that we need to have a security guarantee, a concrete security guarantee for Ukraine,” Rodnyansky said. He added that this could be something like the Budapest Memorandum, “but much more specific,” referring to the 1994 deal under which Kyiv gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from the US, Britain and Russia.
“If we get [security guarantees], that would suffice to say at this point that we can delay our NATO ambitions, especially since NATO said “no” to us anyway. So that’s relatively easy, I’d say,” Rodnyansky said.
He also said that it might be possible for Ukrainians to agree to Moscow’s demands for a so-called “denazification” of Ukrainian street names and to recognize Russian as the language of some Ukrainian regions. Moscow wants Ukraine to change the names of streets honoring people it sees as Nazis or Nazi sympathizers during World War II.
“You have to sell something to the Russian people,” Rodnyansky said. “But changing the names of the streets is not a big problem. So we can. That’s really what they need to sell to their people.”
There are streets in Kyiv and Lviv, for example, named after WWII-era Ukrainian ultranationalist Stepan Bandera, whom Russia considered an accomplice of Adolf Hitler. Bandera was notorious for his use of terrorist tactics and assassinations, and his organization Order of Ukrainian Nationalists carried out massacres of Poles and Jews.
Rodnyansky also said that the possibility of recognizing Russian as a regional language “is not a problem”.
“All this is just Russian propaganda, but they have to sell something to the people along the lines of ‘we won here,'” he said. “That’s a PR stunt on their part, but we can give that to them if that means peace and sovereignty for us… I think those are relatively easy points.”
But the “hardest part,” Rodnyansky said, has to do with Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russia has already acknowledged separatist claims and started the ongoing invasion, deploying what were originally described as “peacekeeping” troops to these eastern regions.
“Of course, that’s the hardest part,” Rodnyansky said. “I mean, they went in to conquer the territory, to occupy our country. And obviously they’re not going to say, ‘okay, we’re just going to give this up’… There won’t be any hard points on the table. Anything related to our sovereignty on the territory is of course not going anywhere.”
Rodnyansky also warned that he has personal fears that Russia is using the peace talks to keep the West in check as it prepares to launch increasingly brutal attacks.
He warned that the negotiations could be a “carefully designed ploy” with Moscow “hoping to avert further sanctions by signaling to the West: ‘Look, we’re close to an agreement and therefore no further sanctions are needed. ‘ Because, you know, why would you stop buying oil and gas in Europe when it’s all going to be over in a minute?”
https://www.politico.eu/article/zelenskyy-aide-deal-on-nato-easy-to-agree-with-russia-but-giving-up-territory-a-no-go/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication “Easy” to agree on a NATO deal with Russia – but giving up territory is a no-go – POLITICO