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Home World News How Zelensky’s rhetoric has changed: from “this won’t happen” to negotiations with Russia through intermediaries

How Zelensky’s rhetoric has changed: from “this won’t happen” to negotiations with Russia through intermediaries

by alex

Как изменилась риторика Зеленского: от "не будет такого" до переговоров с Россией через посредников

Negotiations and the end of the war?

In the third year of the full-scale war of the Russian Federation, Ukrainian statements about peaceful negotiations became less harsh. According to experts and diplomats, the Peace Summit in Switzerland, on which Kyiv had high hopes, did not bring the desired results. A few days later, President Vladimir Zelensky, in an interview with a foreign publication, proposed a model of negotiations through intermediaries.

How the rhetoric of Vladimir Zelensky has changed and how realistic is the scenario that Kyiv will sit down at the negotiating table with a terrorist country – read the exclusive.

Attempts at negotiations with the Russian Federation in 2022

The first attempt at peace negotiations was on February 28, 2022, on the fourth day of the full-scale Russian war. Then it was organized by a telephone call to Zelensky by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The Russian authorities brought a draft peace agreement, but the Ukrainians celebrated the surrender of the Russian Federation.

After the next two rounds in March – also in Belarus, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha – they decided to move the conversation to Turkey. The next attempt was on March 29, 2022 in Istanbul. The last real attempt to end the war diplomatically, but now on the territory of President Erdogan, who also likes the role of peacemaker. On the Russian side, oligarch Abramovich is making significant efforts; anti-Russian sanctions have already hit his property.

The conditions voiced then by the Ukrainian delegation led by the head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, David Arakhamia, differed from Zelensky’s current peace plan. In particular, then the thesis was voiced about refusing to join NATO in exchange for receiving international security guarantees. The status of Crimea was to be discussed at the presidential level over the next 15 years, and Ukraine must undertake not to return the peninsula by military means. However, this was not enough for Russia. Feeling ready to make concessions, the Kremlin demands that Russian be approved as the second state language and that the Ukrainian Armed Forces be reduced—in a way unacceptable for Ukraine. The negotiations ended in nothing.

And in September 2022, Zelensky signed a decree on the impossibility of holding negotiations with Putin, and in the same fall, during the G20 summit in Indonesia, he announced a ten-point peace formula, which Ukraine is still promoting. After this decree, peace negotiations with the Russian Federation became impossible, which Putin is now constantly manipulating in the international arena. They say that Russia wants to sit down at the table, but Ukraine refuses. According to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadim Prystaiko, this decree of Zelensky banning negotiations with Putin “is a purely emotional reaction” of the president.

“Peaceful plans” end of the war

Next 2023 countries friendly in the Russian Federation offered their visions of ending the war in Ukraine. Of course, on Moscow's terms. In June 2023, information appeared in the media that African leaders would present their “peace plan.” Reuters, citing a draft framework document, reported that the peace plan allegedly included the withdrawal of Russian troops, the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, the suspension of the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for Putin and the easing of sanctions. And in February 2024, China, which stands on the side of the Russian Federation in Putin’s war, although the authorities do not openly declare this, showed its “peace agreement.” This document, which included 12 points, was published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Zelensky reacted to this plan. Advisor to the head of the OP, Mikhail Podolyak, said that China’s proposals for the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine do not carry the idea of ​​a “peace plan”; they rather propose freezing the conflict. Almost a year later, in May 2024, Turkey, which had repeatedly stated its desire to mediate since the start of the full-scale war, presented its “peace proposals” for the end of the war, which in fact meant a “freeze” of hostilities, not an end. Then the publication Novaya Gazeta Europe, citing a source familiar with the document, published a draft agreement that provided clearly pro-Russian conditions for ending the war. Apparently they were rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.

“A mutual commitment by the United States and Russia not to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances, as well as the renewal of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, with the impossibility of a unilateral withdrawal from it in the future; freezing the war on the current front line; a commitment to hold referendums in 2040: an all-Ukrainian one on the country's foreign policy course, as well as referendums under international control in all Ukrainian territories annexed by Russia at the time of the war freezing; guarantees of Ukraine's non-aligned status until 2040;

How Zelensky's rhetoric has changed

In May 2023, when the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was about to begin, the Ukrainian president, in a rather sharp manner commented on the possibility of negotiations with Putin during a conversation with the host of the Italian television channel Porta a Porta.

“We decided for a long time, Putin, excuse me, like a princess, I couldn’t find a format in which to meet,” Zelensky said, recalling 2019 the year when he had just become president and was looking for different options for meetings to end the war.

In the fall of the same year, when it was clear that the Ukrainian counter-offensive did not significantly change the situation at the front, Zelensky once again sharply stated that the Ukrainian authorities have no intention of sitting down at the negotiating table with Russia . He stated this at a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“For us to sit down with Russia now, talk and give something to her – this will not happen”< /p>

A few months later, a statement by the Italian Minister of Defense appeared in the Western media, speaking about signals “indicating the readiness of Ukraine and the Russian Federation for peace negotiations.” Then Zelensky denied this, emphasizing that “as long as everything is decided in the offices of Ukraine, our struggle will be in favor of Ukraine.”

Hopes for the “Peace Summit”

In preparation for the first Global Summit in Switzerland, Zelensky's statements about possible negotiations with Russia sound in the same confident and sharp tone. In April 2024, the head of Ukraine announced that during the meeting a detailed map would be developed for the end of this war “from the point of view of a just peace, based on the resolutions of the agreements.” However, in May it became known that only three out of ten points from the “Ukrainian peace formula” were submitted to the summit: nuclear energy security, food security, humanitarian item.

It is noteworthy that, according to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Vadim Prystaiko, during this summit “another convincing victory was not achieved.” He said this during a conversation with expert Vitaly Portnikov on Espresso.

“Another convincing victory has not been achieved, but everyone understands that we need to move on. This is a normal step for our government. What will the next one be like (World Summit – ed. .). Everyone heard the signal, from Switzerland to the Global South, that we would have to talk to Putin, this was very unpleasant for us, and it was not included in our plans, but it did not work out as planned.

In his opinion, both Ukraine and Russia have “reached a dead end.” “I don’t believe in peace negotiations. I believe in stopping this war,” Prystaiko said.

Negotiation model through intermediaries

Against the background of the delay of Western aid, the results of the peace summit in Switzerland and the Russian offensive in the Kharkov region, the rhetoric of the Ukrainian President has become less harsh. At the end of June 2024, Zelensky, in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, admitted the possibility of negotiations with the Russian Federation. According to him, today he sees only one model – a trilateral agreement with intermediaries, which was used for the work of the “grain” corridor.

“Ukraine can find a model in which a solution can be found. This model was used for the first time on the example of the grain corridor, when Ukraine agreed not with Russia, but with The UN and Turkey. They, in turn, took upon themselves the responsibility to negotiate with us, and then sign a corresponding agreement with the Russian Federation. And so it worked: two mirror agreements, between which there is the UN and Turkey…”

He noted that a similar model is applicable in territorial integrity, energy, and shipping. Which countries that could become intermediaries are still unknown. Probably among them will be Türkiye, which has repeatedly stated its readiness to mediate. Another reason that Turkey and Russia have diplomatic and economic relations.

Recall that Ukraine is not ready to make territorial concessions to Russia to end the war, but listens to the advice of the world on how to achieve peace.

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