New York Times Publishes Draft of Proposed Russia-Ukraine Peace Deal

The American media outlet has released what it claims are the terms discussed by Moscow and Kiev in 2022

The New York Times published several documents on Saturday that it claims are draft versions of a peace deal negotiated in Istanbul by Moscow and Kiev, in the first months of the Ukraine conflict. According to the outlet, the US and Poland were “alarmed” by the proposals, fearing they would lead to the “disarmament” of Ukraine.

The American daily published three documents. One, dated March 17, 2022, is claimed to be a draft treaty text proposed by the Ukrainian side. The English-language version supposedly obtained by the NYT was allegedly provided by Kiev to its Western backers.

Under the document terms, Ukraine agreed to a status of “permanent neutrality” in exchange for security guarantees from the US, UK, France, Russia, and China. It also supposedly vowed to not join any military blocs and terminate any agreements incompatible with its neutral status.

Kiev also was to recognize Crimea as Russian and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as independent states, as well as restore the infrastructure destroyed in the region by its forces between 2014 and 2022. The document also set limits to the amount of heavy military equipment Ukraine could have, although Russia said that it did not in fact “provide for reduction in Armed Forces,” according to the outlet.

The document published by NYT is also riddled with critical notes from both sides calling certain provisions or wordings “unacceptable.” The annotations reportedly do not show either Ukrainian opposition to the idea of recognizing Crimea as part of Russia or to formally granting independence to the Donbass republics.

According to the NYT, the draft agreement did not sit well with US officials. At a meeting with their Ukrainian counterparts, the Americans called it “unilateral disarmament,” an unnamed senior official told the paper. Poland was also reportedly alarmed and wanted to prevent the deal from being done. The nation’s president, Andrzej Duda, met with NATO leaders in March to that end, the NYT claimed.

The second document, dated to late March, was allegedly an internal joint communique, which expanded the list of security guarantors for Ukraine and added that the status of Crimea was to be determined by Moscow and Kiev during a period of 10 to 15 years.

The third document in the cache published by the NYT is reportedly a draft treaty agreement dated April 15, 2022. Under its provisions, Ukraine was still to become a permanently neutral nation in exchange for security guarantees, but was allowed to join the EU and participate in its “peacekeeping missions.” The decision on the status of Crimea was to be postponed.

Kiev, according to the notes, refused to discuss sanctions on Russia and mutual legal claims filed with various international bodies. It also refused to consider issues related to the status of the Russian language inside Ukraine or banning Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda, according to the document.

Moscow allegedly demanded any future military assistance to Ukraine be provided only on the basis of a collective decision by all security guarantors. This demand turned out to be the biggest problem for Kiev, the NYT claimed, adding that the parties also failed to agree on the range of weapons Ukraine would have been allowed to have.

Some members of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks still believed they were very close to striking a deal. “We managed to find a very real compromise,” Aleksandr Chaly, one of the Ukrainian negotiators said last December. “We were very close in the middle of April, in the end of April, to finalize our war with some peaceful settlement.”

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that the two sides had managed to reach an agreement that “was generally acceptable to both Moscow and Kiev.” A draft treaty was drawn up that was initialed by the head of the Ukrainian delegation, the president said. “That means that Kiev… was satisfied with such a solution.”

Moscow has not yet officially commented on the authenticity of the documents, which the NYT says were confirmed by unnamed participants at the talks. The two sides have not sat at the negotiating table since spring 2022, when Kiev backed out of the discussions.

Ukraine’s top negotiator in Istanbul, David Arakhamia, stated last November that then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kiev specifically to persuade Vladimir Zelensky to withdraw from the talks.

Russia has since repeatedly signaled its readiness for dialogue, while accusing Kiev and its Western backers of refusing to engage in diplomacy.