Russian President Vladimir Putin had a phone call Thursday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which he allegedly laid out his demands to be met in order to end the invasion of Ukraine.
BBC News interviewed one of the men privy to the call, Mr. Erdogan’s leading adviser and spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. Kalin, one of a small group of officials who listened in on the call, said Putin’s demands come in two main categories.
The first four demands Kalin believes are not hard for Ukraine to meet. BBC News reports:
Chief among them is an acceptance by Ukraine that it should be neutral and should not apply to join Nato. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has already conceded this.
There are other demands in this category which mostly seem to be face-saving elements for the Russian side.
Ukraine would have to undergo a disarmament process to ensure it wasn’t a threat to Russia. There would have to be protection for the Russian language in Ukraine. And there is something called de-Nazification.
This is deeply offensive to Mr Zelensky, who is himself Jewish and some of whose relatives died in the Holocaust, but the Turkish side believes it will be easy enough for Mr Zelensky to accept. Perhaps it will be enough for Ukraine to condemn all forms of neo-Nazism and promise to clamp down on them.
For the second group of demands, Putin has insisted on a face-to-face negotiation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky has already stated publicly he is willing to meet with Putin one-on-one.
BBC News reports:
Mr Kalin was much less specific about these issues, saying simply that they involved the status of Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, parts of which have already broken away from Ukraine and stressed their Russianness, and the status of Crimea.
Although Mr Kalin didn’t go into detail, the assumption is that Russia will demand that the Ukrainian government should give up territory in eastern Ukraine. That will be deeply contentious.
The other assumption is that Russia will demand that Ukraine should formally accept that Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, does indeed now belong to Russia. If this is the case, it will be a bitter pill for Ukraine to swallow.
Nevertheless, it is a fait accompli, even though Russia has no legal right to own Crimea and actually signed an international treaty, after the fall of Communism but before Vladimir Putin came to power, accepting that Crimea was part of Ukraine.