As the world watches Ukraine grapple with a civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, one man is trying to broker a peace deal: Volodymyr Zelensky, the comedian and politician who won the country’s recent election. But there are conditions attached to Zelensky’s offer—conditions that Vladimir Putin is unlikely to accept. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Zelensky lays out his demands for a genuine peace settlement: an end to Russian military interference in eastern Ukraine, withdrawal of Russian troops and weapons, and constitutional reform in Ukraine that would give more power to the country’s regions. If Russia refuses these terms, Zelensky says he will not call off the military forces fighting on behalf of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. This is a significant moment—Zelensky may well be able to broker a genuine peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, or at least put some parameters on the current conflict. Read on to find out more about this outspoken new leader in Ukrainian politics.
Zelensky sets conditions for a “genuine” peace talks
Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has set conditions for “genuine” peace talks with Russia. He insists that the talks must be limited to a discussion of ending the war in eastern Ukraine and must be followed by parliamentary elections in the country. Zelensky also says that any territorial changes in Ukraine should be approved by a majority of the population there.
Zelensky Announces New Peace Plan
In a speech on January 24, Zelensky announced his new peace plan for Ukraine. The plan calls for a cease-fire and territorial concessions from Russia in return for an end to the war in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky said that the conditions of the peace talks would be based on the Minsk accords, which were signed in 2015 but never fully implemented.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: ‘We Will Not Take Any Steps Toward a Settlement’
Amidst a tense standoff in the east of Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov spoke with reporters and asserted that Russia will not take any steps toward peace talks until Ukraine fulfills four conditions. Ryabkov said that Ukraine must first acknowledge its role in the conflict and withdraw all its troops from the disputed territories; Kiev must also provide access for international monitors to verify its compliance; it must cease all hostilities and allow humanitarian aid into the region; and finally, Kiev must pledge not to pursue any territorial gains made during the conflict. Ryabkov reiterated Moscow’s position that Kyiv is solely responsible for starting the violence in eastern Ukraine, and he criticized Kyiv for refusing to meet with representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
What Are Ukraine’s Conditions for Entering into Peace Talks?
Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has set conditions for entering into “genuine” peace talks with Russia. Zelensky said that any negotiations must be based on the Minsk agreements and the Ukrainian Constitution. Ukraine is also demanding that any agreement be ratified by the Ukrainian people in a referendum.
Zelensky’s proposals represent a significant change of course for Ukraine, which until now has been willing to negotiate only if Russia withdraws its troops and military equipment from eastern Ukraine and respects the independence of the country’s territory.
What Could Happen If Ukraine Does Not Meet These Conditions?
Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has made it clear that he won’t negotiate peace with Russia until the country improves its human rights record. In response, Russian officials have said that they will not attend any talks in Kiev if Ukrainian leaders don’t first agree to conditions like a halt to military operations in eastern Ukraine and amnesty for all separatists. These negotiations could take months or even years to occur, which means that tensions between the two countries are going to stay high for a while. If Ukraine fails to meet these conditions, there is a risk that hostilities could resume and the current fragile ceasefire could unravel.
Ukraine’s Zelensky Sets Conditions for ‘Genuine’ Peace Talks With Russia
On July 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to establish a ceasefire and begin peace talks. Zelensky set four conditions for the talks: Russia must withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Ukraine; Russia must return Crimea to Ukraine; Russia must stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine; and there must be internationally monitored elections in Donbass. Putin responded by stating that he is willing to negotiate but only if Zelensky meets first with pro-Russian separatists.
What are Zelensky’s Conditions?
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, has said that Petro Poroshenko, the current president of Ukraine, must agree to some clear conditions if he wants to take part in negotiations with Moscow. These include a ceasefire in Donbass and recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Zelensky has also made it clear that any peace deal must be based on the Minsk agreements. These were negotiated by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany in 2015 and aimed at ending the war in eastern Ukraine. They require both sides to pull back their troops, declare a ceasefire and create a buffer zone between the two countries.
Zelensky has said that he will only negotiate with Russia if there is progress on all four of these fronts: constitutional reform in Ukraine; control over energy resources within Ukraine; release of political prisoners; and restoration of normal economic ties between Ukraine and Russia.
What Could Happen If the Talks Fail?
If the talks fail, Ukraine could face a longstanding conflict that would lack a clear endpoint. Poroshenko has proposed a ceasefire in the east and the withdrawal of Russian troops, but Zelensky wants more concessions from Moscow. If talks do not progress satisfactorily by September 5th, Zelensky said he would consider “other steps.”
Ukraine could also turn to other countries for help, as NATO and EU sanctions have not succeeded in deterring Russian aggression. France and Germany are already speaking about increasing their military presence in Ukraine if peace talks break down. The U.S., meanwhile, has publicly stated its readiness to provide additional financial assistance to Kiev if needed.
Russia may attempt to escalate the situation further by sending new forces into the conflict zone or even starting a all-out war with Ukraine. In such an event, Russia would likely suffer significant casualties, while Ukrainian forces would likely hold their ground against superior numbers. This could lead to another frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine that would take years or even decades to resolve.
In a statement released Thursday evening, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, set conditions for what he called “genuine” peace talks with Russia. Zelensky said that the talks must be based on international law and take into account the results of the recent Ukrainian elections, which saw Zelensky win by a wide margin. He also called for an end to Russian military activity in eastern Ukraine and for Crimea to be returned to Ukrainian control. This is only the start of what will likely be a difficult negotiation process, but it is an important first step towards resolving the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.