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When Zelenskyy Explained to Ukraine a Peace Plan with Russia

Jan. 26, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In an article for Antiwar today, “What Can the United States Bring to the Peace Table for Ukraine?” CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin and collaborator Nicolas Davies very usefully remind of a time when the world was only half-crazy. In March 2022, negotiations including a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, carried out in Istanbul, resulted in “a 15-point ‘neutrality agreement,’ which President Zelenskyy publicly presented and explained to his people in a national TV broadcast on March 27th. Russia agreed to withdraw from the territories it had occupied since the invasion in February in exchange for a Ukrainian commitment not to join NATO or host foreign military bases. That framework also included proposals for resolving the future of Crimea and Donbas,” wrote Benjamin and Davies. They included a link to the Guardian’s March 28, 2022 coverage of Zelenskyy’s presentation.

The Guardian stated that Zelenskyy was “willing to discuss ‘neutral status’ at face-to-face talks with Russia” in Turkiye. Then it quotes Zelenskyy as saying in his broadcast: “Our goal is obvious—peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. Effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory.” And Zelenskyy granted a video interview “with independent Russian media outlets to signal his willingness to discuss the idea of Ukraine adopting a ‘neutral status,’ and also make compromises about the status of the eastern Donbas region, in order to secure a peace agreement with Russia.”

Worth noting, though not mentioned in the Benjamin-Davies article, within hours of Zelenskyy’s presentations, the “Bucha” narrative was set into play. Then, within two weeks, Britain’s then Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Kiev making clear that the West would not provide such security guarantees as Zelenskyy had called for. Rather, the West expected Ukraine to reject any agreement with Russia and to fight to the last Ukrainian.

The article does list “some steps the U.S. could consider putting on the table to start de-escalating these ever-rising tensions.” It begins with the West supporting “Ukrainian neutrality by agreeing to participate in the kind of security guarantees Ukraine and Russia agreed to in March, but which the U.S. and U.K. rejected.”

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