Geoffrey Roberts – Ten Takeaways from Putin’s Latest Peace Proposal (June 2024)

June 25, 2024 – https://braveneweurope.com/

A chance to understand what the opening gambit of peace negotiations from the Russian side looks like

Geoffrey Roberts is Emeritus Professor of History at University College Cork and a member of the Royal Irish Academy

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1. The proposal is NOT an ultimatum; it is a set of preconditions for a ceasefire that would lead to detailed negotiations about a permanent peace settlement.

2. Putin’s territorial precondition – concession of Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporozhe – is minimalist. These five provinces have been constitutionally incorporated into the Russian Federation (Crimea in 2014, the rest in October 2022). Most of their territory is already occupied by Russian troops, and more will be captured in the coming weeks and months.

3. Putin’s radical – but far from novel – demand is an end to Ukraine’s partnership with NATO via the country’s neutralisation and demilitarisation. That is the main sticking point for Kiev and the West, who both want Ukraine to remain a NATOised bulwark against Russia in the New Cold War.

4. The template for a durable Russia-Ukraine peace settlement was (according to Putin) forged during the Istanbul talks of spring 2022 – negotiations that failed because Kiev and the West walked away from them.

5. The offer of an international security guarantee for postwar Ukraine remains on the table; such a guarantee (hints Putin) could be even stronger than the protection that would be afforded by NATO membership.

6. Putin’s proposal is a rebuff to Russian hardliners who want to occupy Kharkov, Odessa and beyond, and a crystallisation of the kind of compromise peace that most Russians would like to see.

7. Putin’s preconditions are aimed primarily at a possible post-Zelensky regime that would try to make peace  with Russia in order to save Ukraine from utter destruction. All-important is Putin’s promise to allow the Ukrainian military a safe and orderly retreat from Kherson, Zaporozhe and the Donbass.

8. Putin’s message to his many friends and allies in the global South is that a forever war in Ukraine will be the West’s responsibility, not Russia’s.

9. Russia’s longstanding campaign for pan-European collective security has a new spin – the integration of such a system into a unified Euro-Asian security space.

10. Rejection of Putin’s proposal and prolongation of the war will result in Ukrainian territorial losses way beyond the concessions currently demanded by Putin, not to speak of further death and destruction on a vast scale.

Link to Putin’s speech: http://www.en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/74285