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Ukraine seeks security guarantees ‘stronger than NATO’s,’ outlines other terms for peace deal with Russia

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (C) gives a thank you speech during the peace talks between delegations from Russia and Ukraine at Dolmabahce Presidential Office in Istanbul, Turkey on March 29, 2022. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukraine is seeking security guarantees that are stronger than NATO’s Article 5, David Arakhamia, the leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s faction in the parliament and head of the Ukrainian delegation during the ongoing peace negotiations with Russia, said on March 29. Arakhamia was speaking following a round of peace talks with Russia held in Istanbul earlier on that day.

NATO’s Article 5 commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state to be an armed attack against them all.

“We insist that this should be an agreement on security guarantees signed and ratified (by parliaments) to avoid repeating the mistake of the Budapest Memorandum,” Arakhamia said.

Under the non-binding 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. pledged not to use military force against Ukraine in exchange for it renouncing the nuclear weapons it had obtained from the Soviet Union. Russia violated the memorandum by invading Ukraine in 2014-2022 and other guarantor countries failed to protect Ukraine.

Under the guarantees proposed by Ukraine on March 29, guarantor countries must consult each other within three days after the beginning of military aggression or hybrid war, Arakhamia said. After consultations, these countries must provide aid to Ukraine by sending troops, supplying weapons and protecting Ukraine’s sky, he added.

Such guarantor countries may include the U.S., the U.K., China, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Israel. Other countries will also be able to join, Arakhamia said. These guarantees should also help Ukraine join the European Union.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelensky’s chief of staff and a member of Ukraine’s delegation, said the Ukrainian government will sign an agreement on security guarantees only if it’s ratified by a nationwide referendum. A referendum can only be held after Russian troops withdraw from the country, said Fedir Venislavsky, Zelensky’s representative at the Constitutional Court.

According to Podolyak, Ukraine had also proposed holding negotiations with Russia within 15 years on the status of Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014. The status of Russian-occupied territories in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts is proposed to be determined during direct negotiations between Zelensky and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Podolyak added.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation and an aide to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, called the negotiations with Ukraine “constructive.” He said that Russia had decided to reduce its military activities in the direction of Kyiv and Cherhnihiv in northern Ukraine as a result of the talks. However, that statement came as Ukraine’s forces continue to successfully push Russian troops back in the north.

It is not yet clear when the next round of talks will be held. Podolyak said that the date will be set after Russia reacts to Ukraine’s proposals.

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