The possibility of compromise was “very real” in April 2022, a key negotiator from Kiev’s side has said
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally sought a peace agreement with Ukraine in April 2022, according to Ambassador Aleksandr Chaly, a senior member of the Ukrainian delegation.
Chaly expressed this perspective during an event at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) in early December, where he dissected the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The ex-deputy foreign minister is an associate fellow at the Swiss government-funded foundation. His remarks drew media attention after a video of the event was released on YouTube last week.
Chaly analyzed the roots of the ongoing conflict, which he described as “hard competition” for Ukraine that the US and the EU have with Russia, as well as Kiev’s intention to join the EU and NATO. He stressed that “Russian aggression” was not inevitable since the parties had sufficient tools to resolve their differences.
The diplomat called Putin’s decision to launch the special military operation against Ukraine in February 2022 “a crime” and “a mistake” and claimed that the Russian leader had been misled by “his own propaganda and his intelligence services.”
Approximately a week into hostilities, Chaly believes Putin recognized the unrealistic nature of his expectations and actively pursued a negotiated resolution. He based his analysis on his personal involvement in the peace talks, which were first hosted by Minsk and culminated in Istanbul in late March with a draft truce approved by both sides.
“Putin … tried to do everything possible to conclude [the] agreement with Ukraine,” the diplomat told the audience. The text made concessions to Kiev, compared to Russia’s initial position, and it was Putin’s “personal decision” to accept it, he claimed.
We’ve managed to find a very real compromise. Putin really wanted to reach some peaceful agreement with Ukraine.
Chaly mused that “for some reason,” the Istanbul communique did not transform into an actual treaty.
The Ukrainian delegation’s leader, MP David Arakhamia, said in late November that then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised Ukrainians to “just continue fighting” during his visit to Kiev after the conclusion of the talks.
Remarks made by senior Russian officials, including Putin, partially back Chaly’s account. The president said during his year-end press conference this month that Russia’s stated goals of demilitarization and “de-Nazification” of Ukraine would have been addressed under the pre-approved treaty.
“Options remain to either achieve them through an agreement or by force,” Putin stressed.
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