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WSJ: Document from 2022 reveals Putin’s punishing terms for Ukraine peace

A leaked draft peace treaty from April 2022 reveals the harsh terms Putin sought to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including Ukraine’s permanent neutrality, strict limits on its military, and the retention of Crimea by Russia.
Russia Ukraine peace talks
The Ukrainian and Russian delegations at “peace talks” in March 2022 Credit: Mykhailo Podolyak/ Twitter
WSJ: Document from 2022 reveals Putin’s punishing terms for Ukraine peace

A draft peace treaty from April 2022 reveals the harsh terms Vladimir Putin sought to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a leaked 17-page document viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The deal shows negotiators on both sides briefly considered significant compromises as Ukraine struggled militarily in the early weeks.

Russia demanded that Ukraine become a “permanently neutral state” barred from joining NATO or hosting foreign weapons. Strict limits were to be imposed on Ukraine’s military size and armaments. The draft treaty demanded that Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, remain under Moscow’s control.

“A draft peace treaty drawn up by Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in April 2022, about six weeks after the start of the war, lays bare the sort of deal Putin was after at the time. Western officials and analysts say the Kremlin clings to its original objectives after two years of fighting: Turn Ukraine into a neutered state permanently vulnerable to Russian military aggression. The terms Russia seeks now are likely to be even more severe,” WSJ wrote.

Ultimately, no deal was reached as the scale of Russian war crimes in Ukraine became apparent, Ukraine’s military fortunes improved, and the West supplied weapons to bolster Kyiv.

Ukraine’s peace formula

Presently, Ukraine insists on no peace talks until Russia withdraws its troops. Two years of conflict have solidified Ukrainian public opinion against any peace deal, with President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioning that halting hostilities would only enable Russia to rearm and pose a greater threat in the future. Analysts suggest that a military victory for either side is becoming increasingly unlikely.

During the Ukraine-South East Europe Summit in Tirana on 28 February, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, known for his support for Russia, and together with nine other countries, they signed a joint declaration supporting Ukraine’s peace plan. Zelenskyy emphasized the significance of Serbia’s involvement in implementing Ukraine’s Peace Formula.

Over the two years of the all-out war, Russia has consistently restated its maximalist goals in Ukraine, effectively demanding Ukraine’s capitulation. In January 2024, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov restated Russia’s uncompromising position on Ukraine, confirming no interest in negotiations with Ukraine or the West, aligning with President Putin’s 2022 address demanding Ukraine’s “demilitarization” and “denazification,” and NATO to halt new member admissions, effectively signaling a call for surrender by Ukraine and the West.

Meanwhile, Ukraine promotes its peace formula, including deoccupation of the entire Ukrainian territory. At the latest peace formula summit in Davos, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, stated that Ukrainian authorities reject the idea of a frozen conflict in Ukraine. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy unveiled Ukraine’s peace formula to end the Russo-Ukrainian war in October 2022. The plan includes the following key points:

  • Ensure nuclear safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant;
  • Protect and ensure Ukraine’s grain exports for food security;
  • Ensure safety of Ukraine’s power infrastructure and aid in its restoration;
  • Release all prisoners, including POWs and deported individuals;
  • Restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity;
  • Withdraw Russian troops and restore state borders;
  • Establish a special tribunal for prosecuting war crimes;
  • Focus on demining and restoring water facilities for ecocide prevention;
  • Create a security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space;
  • Confirm the end of the war with a signed document.

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