Terms of a Peace Agreement with Russia

Ihor Petrenko

9 mins - 10 de Enero de 2023, 07:05

Over the past few months, the Russian Federation has been actively promoting the message of its readiness to negotiate peace with Ukraine and Kyiv’s unwillingness to return to the negotiation process. Simultaneously with the talks about peace, Russian missiles continue to kill Ukrainians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine. This is probably Russia’s real response to the issue of peace talks. Instead, Ukraine has never refused and does not refuse the negotiation process with Russia. President Zelensky is ready to negotiate in a public format, not behind the scenes, and offers his own formula for peace. Read more about the negotiating positions of both sides and the current situation of Russia’s war against Ukraine in the article.

Nearly 10 months have passed since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, and Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine has been going on for over 8 years. It all began with the annexation of Crimea, then the war in Donbas, then the Minsk agreements, which Russia has never fulfilled, then numerous rounds of negotiations (Volodymyr Zelensky alone has held 88 of them in 2.5 years of his cadence), and then – all-out invasion, missile terror, torture and murder of Ukrainians, energy genocide, looting, destruction of cities… 

This is a brief description of the degradation of Russia, which, like a serial maniac who failed to be stopped in time, commits more and more murders to quench its ever-increasing thirst for blood. In fact, Russia felt this thirst back in 2008, when it started a war against sovereign Georgia with virtually zero consequences for itself. Then the world preferred not to see it and thus gave tacit consent to Moscow for further actions. I am convinced that it was the indulgence and flirting with Russia that led to today's war and economic consequences for virtually all countries. However, even the smartest maniac sooner or later makes a mistake, because the feeling of impunity relaxes. For Russia, such a mistake was the all-out invasion of Ukraine, which Putin’s dictatorial regime simply failed to appreciate beyond the prism of its own propaganda.

Striving to capture Kyiv in three days, and initially having some success, the Kremlin found itself in an extremely difficult situation in the tenth month of the war. Ukrainian forces have liberated more than 78 thousand km² of their territory (for comparison, it is approximately equal to the area of the Czech Republic), which was captured by Russia since the beginning of the all-out invasion. Another 70 thousand km² are still controlled by the occupiers. Moreover, Ukraine has liberated the only regional center that Russia managed to capture after February 24, 2022 – Kherson, which it illegally, like Crimea, incorporated into its structure as a subject of the federation along with other territories. In addition to Kherson, Ukraine has liberated a number of other territories that are part of the Russian Federation under Russian law. In total, up to 120 thousand km² remain under Russian occupation, including 'ORDLO' (occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by the demarcation line until 24.02.) and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (for example, the area of Greece is almost 131 thousand km²). This is about 20% of the territory of Ukraine. 

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In the first months of the war, the Armed Forces of Ukraine practically destroyed the professional army of Russia, that is, the most trained units with combat experience. After that, Putin was forced to announce a mobilization, which failed miserably. Now in Russia there is a hidden mobilization, but the quality of the soldiers involved in the army is extremely low, and even lower is the level of their training, equipment and morale. More and more often mobilized people ask the question ‘what do they fight for in Ukraine?’. In addition, using weapons provided by partners, the Ukrainian Armed Forces destroyed the enemy’s logistics and now the Russian military will have to fight not only with the Armed Forces of Ukraine in winter, but also to fight the cold, lack of supplies and ammunition. So now Russia is in a tough situation on the battlefield, but still has a significant military resource. It should be added that missile terror and destruction of energy and civilian infrastructure of Ukraine do not have the desired effect for Russia. Despite the power outage, Ukrainians are united in their desire to liberate all their territories. In addition, Ukraine has already received and continues to receive new air defense systems from partners. All this together encourages Putin to talk about negotiations. But what drives him is not the desire for a sustainable peace, but the desire to take a tactical pause to regroup troops, replenish stocks and generally build up military power for a new round of aggression, which will be even tougher and will have an even more negative impact on the world economy.

And what is Ukraine’s position on a potential peace agreement with Russia? Ukraine has never refused and does not refuse the negotiation process with Russia. Now Ukraine is ready to negotiate in a public format, not behind the scenes. In fact, Russia has never offered negotiations, but only set ultimatums, yet today it is not in a position to dictate its terms. Russia desperately seeks negotiations when there are only bad expectations and prognoses for the Russian army on the battlefield in Ukraine. Instead, Ukraine will not accept any negotiations, agreements or compromises to end the war until it liberates its territory from Russian occupation.

Ukraine's positions are outlined in Zelensky’s peace formula, which provides for: immediate cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of all Russian troops from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine, restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity, compensation for damages, punishment of all war criminals for crimes committed in Ukraine and provision of effective guarantees of non-repetition of aggression. All these points are logical and reasonable, and most importantly – they will allow to avoid repeated aggression of Russia. The Russian side will consider the truce as its victory and will continue to claim to promote its expansionist policy. Therefore, the truce will only mean the next stage of the war after a certain time. And it will cost even more than the current support of Ukraine by the West. If Russia even planned aggression against Japan, then everyone can estimate the level of aggressiveness of this country.

Ukraine demands fair conditions for the cessation of the Russian-Ukrainian war on the basis of international law and the UN Charter, restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the world order. Instead, Russia continues to disregard the principles generally accepted by the international community, territorial integrity of sovereign countries, human rights and freedoms. Russia must accept the conditions of the international community to ensure radiation, nuclear, food and energy security. In particular, Russia should immediately withdraw its soldiers from the territory of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and stop blackmailing the world with radiation disaster. Also, it should avoid manipulating global food security and agree to the indefinite extension of the grain agreement, rather than use it as a bargaining tool. Russia must pay compensation for its aggression against Ukraine, as confirmed by the relevant UN General Assembly resolution ES-11/L.6 of 14.11.22, and the Russian leadership and war criminals must be held accountable for the atrocities they have committed and continue to commit in Ukraine.

Is Russia ready for this? In short, not yet. Neither politically nor psychologically Russia is ready for real negotiations and complete withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine. But its readiness will increase after the next liberation of Ukrainian territories by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, just as Kherson and other settlements have already been liberated. And the transformation of the captured territories into the subjects of the Russian Federation means absolutely nothing, Russia will simply prohibit mentioning their names in public as it has already done with Kherson.

The most ungrateful thing in political science is to make predictions, but the discerning Spanish reader wants to know when the war will end, so I will briefly share my vision. I think that the winter will be extremely difficult for the Russian army, and Ukraine will continue the counter-offensive, liberating new territories. Until the liberation of the territories captured by Russia before February 24, 2022, we should not expect negotiations that will be fruitful. Unless, of course, Russia takes a rational position and begins an independent withdrawal of its troops, which theoretically can save it from a direct military defeat on the territory of Ukraine. But dictators with imperial ambitions think irrationally, being in captivity of their own propaganda, so this scenario is still highly unlikely. But whether Putin’s ouster from power will be able to stop the war is an open question and requires a separate detailed consideration, because those who call this war 'Putin’s war' may underestimate the imperial ambitions of the Russian people themselves.

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