Ukraine's neutrality is at the heart of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, which are struggling to find a compromise.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are currently discussing a compromise on Ukraine ‘s neutrality along the lines of Sweden and Austria, the Kremlin said Wednesday. In the midst of negotiations with Russia, Ukraine has rejected the idea of its neutrality.
The Ukrainian presidency is calling for “absolute security guarantees” against Russia while rejecting the idea of a “Swedish or Austrian neutrality” model put forward by Moscow.
Russian negotiators want Ukraine to have the same status as Sweden and Austria, two countries that are neutral and non-aligned respectively, but anchored in the Western geopolitical sphere.
Ukraine rejects Russia’s idea of Swedish or Austrian-style neutrality
“Ukraine is now in a state of direct war with Russia. Therefore, the model can only be Ukrainian,” said one of the Ukrainian negotiators, Mykhailo Podoliak, in comments published by the Presidency. He said he wanted “absolute security guarantees” against Russia and that the signatories would commit to intervene on Ukraine’s side in case of aggression.
“This means that the signatories of the guarantees will not stand aside in the event of an attack on Ukraine, as is the case today, but will take an active part in the conflict alongside Ukraine” and will “immediately” provide it with the necessary weapons, Mr Podoliak said.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed: “This is indeed the option that is currently being discussed and can be considered as a compromise.”
Ukrainian status under discussion
Ukraine’s neutrality is at the heart of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations to end Russia’s military offensive in the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.
The neutral status of Ukraine implies that it renounces joining NATO. However, on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that it should be “recognised” that his country would never join the Atlantic Alliance.
This issue is one of the reasons put forward by Russia to justify its offensive in Ukraine, as Moscow considers the Alliance an existential threat.
According to the Ukrainian side, “deep contradictions” persist in the Russian-Ukrainian talks, which will continue on Wednesday.
The chief Russian negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, said on Wednesday that the Kremlin wanted “to achieve peace as soon as possible”. He added that there was talk of a “neutral” Ukraine, referring to Austria and Sweden. According to him, the key issues are the status of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and that of the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow has recognised.