Espreso. Global

Details of peace agreement Ukraine and Russia could sign in April 2022 revealed

27 April, 2024 Saturday

German journalists have made public a peace agreement that Ukraine and Russia could have signed at the beginning of the war, after the liberation of Kyiv and Kharkiv regions


Die Welt reports this with reference to a document at their disposal.

A peace agreement could have been signed a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conditions for ending the war were spelled out in a 17-page draft deal that the parties agreed on April 15, 2022. Russia demanded neutrality from Ukraine, limiting the number of troops, weapons, equipment, and aircraft. The occupied territories were to remain with Russia.

The newspaper notes that immediately after the outbreak of the war, the Russian and Ukrainian sides began negotiating with each other to end hostilities. Moscow tried to force Kyiv to surrender at the negotiating table.

In this agreement, Ukraine pledged to maintain "permanent neutrality". Thus, Kyiv renounced any membership in military alliances. Thus, the country's accession to NATO would have been ruled out.

Ukraine agreed to never "receive, produce or acquire" nuclear weapons, to not allow foreign weapons and troops into the country, and to not grant access to its military infrastructure, including airfields and seaports, to any other country.

In addition, Kyiv had to refrain from conducting military exercises with foreign participation and from participating in any military conflicts. According to Article 3 of the document, nothing directly prevented Kyiv from becoming a member of the EU.

Only a few points remained unagreed upon, and they were to be discussed personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the summit, but this never happened.

In response, Russia promised not to attack Ukraine again. To make Kyiv sure of this, Moscow agreed that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia itself, could provide Ukraine with comprehensive security guarantees. In Article 5 of the draft treaty, Kyiv and Moscow agreed on a mechanism reminiscent of NATO's assistance provisions.

In the event of an "armed attack on Ukraine," the guarantor countries would commit to supporting Kyiv in its right to self-defense, enshrined in the UN Charter, for a maximum of three days. This assistance could take place within the framework of "joint action" by all or some of the guarantors. The treaty had to be ratified by each signatory state in accordance with international law.

Thus, the two sides developed a mechanism that differs significantly from the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. At that time, Russia had already assured Ukraine of its territorial integrity. Western powers promised Kyiv support in case of an attack, but did not guarantee it.

However, the security guarantees that were being considered in the spring of 2022 would have required the approval of the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and France in a second phase. Russia also wanted to include Belarus, and Kyiv wanted to include Turkey. However, the first goal of the negotiators in Istanbul was to create unity between Kyiv and Moscow in order to use the text as a basis for multilateral negotiations.

Crimea and the port of Sevastopol were to be excluded from security guarantees. In doing so, Kyiv was actually ceding control of the peninsula to Russia.

It is not clear from the document which part of eastern Ukraine was to be excluded from the guarantor states' promise. The relevant areas were red marked. In the Istanbul communique, Kyiv allegedly agreed to exclude parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions that Russia had already controlled before the war. The Russian delegation, on the other hand, insisted that the borders be determined personally by Putin and Zelenskyy and drawn on a map. The Ukrainian delegation rejected this option.

Russia demanded that in the event of an attack, all guarantor states would agree to activate the assistance mechanism. This would have given Moscow a veto to overcome the defense mechanism. In addition, Moscow rejected a Ukrainian demand that the guarantor states could establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine in the event of an attack.

At the talks, Russia signaled its readiness to withdraw from Ukraine, but not from Crimea and the part of Donbas that was to be excluded from security guarantees. Putin and Zelenskyy were to discuss the details of the withdrawal directly. This was confirmed to the media by two Ukrainian negotiators independently of each other.

The issue of the size of the Ukrainian army in the future also remained unresolved. Kyiv has partially responded to Russia's demands for demilitarization. Moscow demanded that the Ukrainian army be reduced to 85,000 soldiers, whereas there are currently about a million. Ukraine proposed a troop strength of 250,000 soldiers.

Opinions also differed on the number of military equipment. Russia demanded that the number of tanks be reduced to 342, while Kyiv wanted to keep up to 800. Ukraine only wanted to reduce the number of armored vehicles to 2,400, while Russia demanded that only 1,029 be retained.

There was also a big difference in the number of artillery pieces. Moscow planned 519, Kyiv 1900. Kyiv wanted to keep 600 multiple launch rocket systems with a range of up to 280 kilometers, while Russia wanted 96 with a maximum range of 40 kilometers. According to Russia, the number of mortars was to be reduced to 147 and anti-tank missiles to 333, while according to Kyiv, the number was to be reduced to 1080 and 2000, respectively.

In addition, Russia demanded the destruction of Ukrainian aviation. Moscow demanded that 102 fighters and 35 helicopters be left behind, while Kyiv insisted on 160 airplanes and 144 helicopters. According to Russian ideas, there should be two warships, according to Ukrainian ideas, there should be eight.

According to German journalists, the draft treaty shows how close Ukraine and Russia were to a possible peace agreement in April 2022. But after a promising summit in Istanbul, Moscow put forward further demands that Kyiv did not agree to.

Thus, Russia demanded that Ukraine make Russian the second official language, lift mutual sanctions, and stop lawsuits in international courts. Kyiv also had to ban "fascism, Nazism, and aggressive nationalism" by law.

As Welt has learned from several diplomats involved in the negotiations, there was great interest in a treaty in the spring of 2022. After the failure of its offensive on Kyiv, Russia withdrew from northern Ukraine and announced that it wanted to focus on gaining territory in the east.

Die Welt quoted an unnamed member of the Ukrainian delegation as saying: "It was the best deal we could have had." The newspaper believes that even after more than two years of war, the deal still looks favorable in retrospect.

"Ukraine has been on the defensive for several months and has been suffering losses. Looking back, we can say that Ukraine was in a stronger negotiating position then than it is now. If the war had been over about two months after it started, it would have saved countless lives."

At the time, the negotiators predicted that Zelenskyy and Putin would sign the document in April 2022.

Die Welt writes that in November 2023, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, Davyd Arakhamia, suggested why the leaders of the two countries had not met. The then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Kyiv on April 9 and said that London would "not sign anything" with Putin and that Ukraine should continue fighting. Later, Johnson rejected this thesis. However, there are reasons to believe that the proposal to provide security guarantees to Ukraine in coordination with Russia failed at this stage.

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