Ukraine offers neutrality in exchange for NATO-style security guarantees at Russia talks

LVIV, Ukraine, March 29 (Reuters) – Ukraine proposed adopting neutral status in exchange for security guarantees at talks with Russia in Turkey, meaning it would not join military alliances or host military bases, Ukrainian negotiators said on Tuesday.

The proposals would also include a 15-year consultation period on the status of annexed Crimea and could come into force only in the event of a complete ceasefire, the negotiators told reporters in Istanbul. Read full story

The proposals are the most detailed and concrete that Ukraine has aired publicly. They also envisage security guarantees along the lines of the NATO military alliance’s Article 5, its collective defense clause. Poland, Israel, Turkey and Canada could among the potential security guarantors.

“If we manage to consolidate these key provisions, and for us this is the most fundamental, then Ukraine will be in a position to actually fix its current status as a non-bloc and non-nuclear state in the form of permanent neutrality,” said negotiator Oleksander Chaly.

“We will not host foreign military bases on our territory, as well as deploy military contingents on our territory, and we will not enter into military-political alliances,” he said, in comments broadcast on Ukrainian national television.

“Military exercises on our territory will take place with the consent of the guarantor countries.”

There was enough material in the current Ukrainian proposals to warrant a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian negotiators said, adding they were awaiting Russia’s response.

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators met in Turkey on Tuesday for the first face-to-face talks in nearly three weeks, with Ukraine seeking a ceasefire without compromising on territory or sovereignty as its forces have pushed Russians back from Kyiv.