By Lateef Adegbite
Hopes for ceasefire in the more than one month-old Ukraine-Russian war brightens as Russia soft pedals on its aggressive demands. David Arakhamia, a top Ukrainian Negotiator, had said the peace talks being midwifed between the two countries by Recep Erdogan Tayyip, the Turkish President in Instanbul, the country’s capital, that Russia had ‘’verbally agreed to all the key Ukrainian proposals which include withdrawal from Ukraine and conduct of a referendum on the ‘’the neutral status of Ukraine.
But the Ukrainian Negotiators could not get their Russian Counterparts broke their silence on the Crimea region which was annexed in 2014. The Russia Negotiators may be acting out a script of Vladimir Putin, the country’s President who is not yet ready to let go of the Crimea region.
Recall that at the start of the war, Putin, the Russian President had put up some aggressive demands which must be met by the government of Ukraine to speedily end the Special military operations being executed by Russia . Among them were: Ukraine’s neutrality and no membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organistation, NATO, a security alliance, in which seven former allies of the, old Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR ,Romania, Bulgaaria, Hungary, Estonia, Slovania, Lactivia and Lithunia, had joined in 2002, at the instance of George Walker Bush, a former President of the North American country of the United States .
Other Russian demands which the Kremlin had said must be fulfilled by the Zelenskyy government was the demilitarization, denazification, and the protection of Russian Language within Ukraine. This is in addition to their demand that Ukraine must recognise Crimea as part of Russia and also recognise the Independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two regions in Eastern Ukraine.
Agency reports has it that Russian Negotiators were emphatic in the peace talks that Ukraine must show a commitment ’’to permanent neutrality and an agreement not to seek NATO membership, in exchange for security guarantees. For now, the Russian Kremlin, were said to have dropped their previous demands of ‘’denazification’’ and ‘’demilitarization’’ from Ukraine to facilitate the end of the war. Zelensky, who could not hide his feelings had said that the killings in Bucha, showed that the earlier denazification demands applies more to Russia than Ukraine.
Security experts believe that that Russia may have been hard on Ukraine because of the incident of 1962, when the US, had maintained the closest surveillance on the Island of Cuba. John.F.Kennedy. The then President of the US, had told the people that ‘’there was unmistakable evidence that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned Island of Cuba being established by USSR, at the instance of Fidel Castro, the then Cuban President, now deceased.
He had said that ‘’the purpose of these Soviet military bases on the Cuban Island can be none other than ‘’ to provide aNuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere’’. He had made the people of Americans to understand that that Soviet missiles is capable of striking Washington DC, the capital, Panama canal, Cape Canaveral, Mexico City in the southwestern part of the US, in central America or in the Caribbbean area.
He may have further created fear in the mind of the people when he disclosed that a the dditional Soviet military bases in the Cuban Island being established if completed is capable of striking most of the major cities in the Western Hemisphere as far as Hudson Bay, Canada, and Lima, Peru. Moreso, he had said that the ‘’jet bombers , capable of carrying Nuclear weapons , are also being uncrated and assembled in Cuba , while the necessary repair bases are being prepared.
He had told those that cares to listens that this urgent ‘’transformation of Cuba into an important strategic military base by USSR, for its large , long-range and clearly offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction –constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of Americans , in flagrant and deliberate defiance of the Rio Pact of 1947’’.
The US government had refused to take any explanation from Russia that despite the arms buildup in Cuba, it would still retain its original defensive character and that the Soviet Union, had no need or desire to station strategic missiles on the territory of any other nation.
It is not surprising why the Kremlin did not want see NATO, military buildup or troops anywhere close to its borders. Russia has repeatedly made it clear that Ukraine would have ‘’to agree ‘’to remain a Non-Nuclear power and abandon its ambitions of ever joining NATO, and forgo any NATO, installations or troops deployment to the country for peace to reign in the region.
.Zelenskyy, may have known that the government cannot take unilateral decision on the issue that he has opted to conduct a referendum where ‘’the Constitution to remove any NATO, aspirations and accepting a status of permanent neutrality’’ would be decided once and for all.
The Ukrainian President had previously said that the country never had any intention of joining NATO, but was committed to joining the EU. It was not surprising whyDemitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson had said that a ‘’neutral Ukraine would be a Kind Compromise to a ceasefire to end the more than a month-old war.
He may have won the mind of the people of the international community when he said that Ukraine was committed to neutrality in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union into fifteen Republics in 1992 but each of its wings of neutrality was said to have moved away towards the West in response to Russia’s aggression. Indeed, the country was said to have actually abandoned its neutrality status in 2014, when the Russian strong man, Putin, described as the Josef Stalin of East Europe, mobilised troops and annexed Crimea in 2014 and invaded Eastern Ukraine in January, 2022.
The two countries were said to have initially signed dozen international agreements that should have committed Russia ‘’to respecting Ukraine’s December 1991 borders but Putin was said to have shown no importance ‘’to adhering to those obligations to avoid giving room to the US and its allies from coming close to Russia borders’’.
The Ukrainian President had expected that having dumped Russia, its former ally, the US and its allies would fully come to their rescue from the hands of the Russian forces but this is not the case. He may have shocked people when he said ‘’the global security architecture to help Ukraine has failed’’.
According to him, the country has not ‘’yet received enough modern western anti-missile systems or given aircraft’’. This may have emboldened him to tell Ukrainians that hopes that Russian Forces will simply vacate their occupied territories in the country without a hard fight is a lie. Hear him: Peace can will only be achieved if Ukrainians work in hard battles and in parallel in Negotiations with Russians.
He has confirmed that Russian troops are actually withdrawing from the outskirts of Kyiv, the country’s capital, chernhiv and other major towns and cities in Ukraine, but fears that the troops would return in the next two years, insisting that the country needed a security guarantees.
While the countries are still engaging in talks in Instanbul, the Turkish Capital, for a ceasefire being demanded by Ukraine, Zelenskyy had cried out that Russia has ‘’destroyed Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery in Kremnchuk on Friday, April 1, 2022, missile attack’’. He had said that the country’s forces has been conducting targeted attacks on oil depots around the country in Lviv and Onipro cities.
In a related development, Joe Biden, US, President, appear to have drawn Germany and France, to the side of NATO, in joining in imposing economic sanctions and trade embargo on Russia. This is evident as the two EU countries, which had been neutral since the crisis started last January have expelled dozens of Russian Diplomats, suggesting that they were spies as Biden pushes for the United Nations, UN, to try Putin for war crimes.
The US President may have sent a signal to Russia , that the country is fully prepared for it in all fronts as it has made a provision of $250 million to the global chemical weapons watchdog to provide assistance and protection to Ukraine if it is targeted or threatened with chemical weapons.
Recalled that Western Leaders had warned of possible chemical weapons attacks on Ukraine by Russian Forces if the pressure becomes too much from the NATO countries that it could no longer bear it.