Thursday afternoon, Vladimir Putin called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to explain in detail his demands in brokering a peace deal with Ukraine.
Shortly after the phone call concluded, BBC’s John Simpson was able to interview Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s leading adviser and one of a select few officials who sat in on the crucial conversation.
Two categories of demands were laid out by Putin and his officials. According to Kalin, the first four demands could be easily met by Ukraine.
Preeminently among these four is for Ukraine to be fully neutral, and to forget any ambition of joining NATO. Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine has already conceded that his NATO dreams are currently hopeless.
Another demand is for the gradual disarmament of Ukraine; Putin no longer wants to feels threatened by his European neighbor. Putin is also demanding the protection of the Russian language in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin also mentioned his mission to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. An interesting demand for a Jewish Zelensky, who lost relatives to the Holocaust. Regardless, Turkish officials believe this will be easy to accept for Zelensky; a public condemnation of neo-Nazism and efforts to dissolve their groups may be enough to satisfy the Russian President.
Zelensky will face greater challenges with the second category of demands. Putin has said that these would necessitate face-to-face discussions between himself and Zelensky before there can be any agreements. Zelensky has been prepared to meet Putin at the negotiating table for some time now.
Ibrahim Kalin had been less detailed about this second category, briefly mentioning that they involve the east Ukrainian region of Donbas, which for the most part has been pro-Russian, and the official status of the annexed Crimea. It is assumed that Putin will demand territory in eastern Ukraine.
Equally likely is the demand that Ukraine must formally and officially recognize Crimea as Russian land. Crimea was illegally annexed in 2014, and to concede the land to Russia would be difficult to accept for Ukrainians.
Should these conditions be met, supporters of Putin’s war would likely deem it a spectacular victory, though it hardly seems worth the destruction wrought on Ukraine’s population.
These demands may take some time to discuss before an official peace deal is arranged. We can hope for a ceasefire as these talks occur.
It’s largely speculated that even if Putin is able to come to an agreement with Putin, he’ll find himself in a far weaker position in the Kremlin.