Image

How the West Sabotaged Peace Talks Between Russia and Ukraine

“Arguably, everything the U.S. government and its Western allies appear to be doing at the moment, rather than accelerating an end to the war and achieving some compromise, seems to be aimed at prolonging the deadly conflict.”


The ongoing and escalating war in Ukraine that has destroyed an entire nation and killed or injured hundreds of thousands of people could have ended in Spring 2022. On March 29, 2022, the talks between Ukraine and Russia had finally achieved a breakthrough. The two sides were willing to agree on some major concessions, mostly around the question of the post-war European security war. The head of the Ukrainian delegation, Oleksiy Arestovych, stated on the occasion that both parties had reached a deal to end the conflict.[1]

The peace agreement envisioned to proclaim Ukraine as a permanently neutral, non-nuclear state. Ukraine would renounce any intention to join military alliances or allow foreign military bases or troops on its soil.[2] It also included an important concession: it called for the two sides to seek to “peacefully resolve their dispute over Crimea” over the next 10 to 15 years. “We were very close in mid-April 2022 to finalizing the war with a peace settlement”, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, Oleksandr Chalyi, recounted at a public appearance in December 2023.[3]

But the West advised Kyiv to keep fighting. The deal was ultimately rejected when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that any deal, “would be some victory for Putin: if you give him anything, he’ll just keep it, bank it, and then prepare for his next assault”.[4] His promise that the West would provide financial aid and military support to Ukraine played a fundamental role in undermining Ukraine’s willingness to come to an agreement at that time. According to Adam Creighton, Washington correspondent for The Australian newspaper,

“The damage to Ukraine since the US and UK convinced Kyiv to tear up a tentative treaty with Russia, negotiated in Istanbul in the early months of the war, has been dreadful. Quite aside from the death toll, six million mainly young, male Ukrainians have fled their homeland”.[5]

David Arakhamia is the head of President Zelensky’s parliamentary faction and the chief negotiator at the peace talks in Istanbul. In November 2023, Arakhamia told the TV Channel 1+1 that during the talks Johnson arrived in Kyiv and told Ukrainian officials to keep fighting and not sign any agreements with Moscow.[6] “Boris Johnson came to Kyiv and said that we won’t sign anything at all with the Russians – and let’s just keep fighting”.[7]

On 5 May 2022, the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda confirmed that Johnson used his surprise visit to Kyiv in April 2022 to pressure President Zelensky to cut off peace negotiations with Russia, even after the two-sided had made substantial progress towards a settlement to end the war. Citing unnamed sources from Zelensky’s “inner circle” and advisory team, Ukrayinska Pravda reported that Johnson’s position was that “[Putin] should be pressured, not negotiated with”. His position was that “Putin was not really as powerful as they had previously imagined”.[8]

This reporting, along with the public statements of Johnson himself as well as other Western leaders, demonstrates that these leaders were actively frustrating any chances of a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine. One of the primary culprits was the British government, which, according to Lindsay German, convenor of the U.K.-based Stop the War Coalition, had become “an obstacle to peace in Ukraine by encouraging the continuation of the war through huge arms shipments and incendiary rhetoric”.[9]

By late April 2022, Kyiv had changed its more diplomatic approach and it was now demanding a complete Russian withdrawal from the Donbas as a precondition to any peace agreement, effectively abandoning the negotiations. By then President Zelensky had become more confident that, with sufficient Western support promised by Johnson, he could win the war on the battlefield. Oleksii Danilov, the chair of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, declared on May 2: “A treaty with Russia is impossible – only capitulation can be accepted”.[10] Russia’s President Vladimir Putin then declared that the peace negotiations had reached a “dead end”.[11]

So, instead of embracing the idea of peaceful resolution of the conflict and its subsequent diplomatic process, the West ramped up military aid to Kyiv and increased the pressure on Russia, including through an ever-tightening sanctions regime. Naturally, this entirely refutes the notion that Russia was unwilling to negotiate any peace agreement with Ukraine. To the contrary, President Putin was ready to stop the war had Ukraine agreed to remain neutral and committed itself to never join military alliances or allow foreign military bases or troops on its soil. Unfortunately, however, these talks never reached a final deal because Kyiv was told by Western leaders to continue to fight rather than negotiate.

Just last week, President Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden signed a bilateral military agreement. The latter has signed into law US$ 60 billion in funding to support the war efforts in Ukraine. “[W]e have rapidly delivered weapons to Ukraine, and our support is having a significant impact on the battlefield”, said U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris, in a June 15 meeting with the Ukrainian President at the Burgernstock resort, in Switzerland.[12]  Surely, assisting the Ukrainian regime with more lethal weapons can only result in many more dead Ukrainians as well as dead Russians.

Arguably, everything the U.S. government and its Western allies appear to be doing at the moment, rather than accelerating an end to the war and achieving some compromise, seems to be aimed at prolonging the deadly conflict.

On 15 and 16 June, a “Summit on Peace in Ukraine” was organised at the Bürgenstock, a luxury Swiss resort on Lake Lucerne. There, representatives of 93 countries and eight international organisations were gathered with the alleged goal of developing “a common understanding of a path towards a just and last peace in Ukraine”.[13]

Uninvited, however, were representatives of the country with whom the terms of any peace agreement must be negotiated: the Russian Federation. As reported, “the government in Berne initially had intended to invite Russia, but bowed to pressure from the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine itself to refrain”. This, writes Dr Srdja Trifkovik, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles Magazine, “is the equivalent of organizing an international conference on peace in the Middle East to which Israel was not invited”.[14] 

As can be seen, such a “peace conference” is more like a war conference. It reveals a lack of willingness by the United States and its Western allies, Australia included, to negotiate a proper settlement to a horrible conflict that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands. Arguably, the fact that the United States, the European Union and Ukraine asked the Swiss organisers not to invite Russia is therefore a clear indication that the real agenda is actually to prolong the war in Ukraine.

These Western leaders have blood on their hands.

Augusto Zimmermann PhD is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education. He is a former Associate Dean, Research, at Murdoch Law School. During his time at Murdoch, Dr Zimmermann was awarded the University’s Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2012. He is also a former Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017).


[1] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[2] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[3] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[4] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[5] Adam Creighton, ‘Endless was in Ukraine was provoked by Putin, but it’s time to talk’, The Australian, 14 June 2024 (online).

[6] ‘Ukraine conflict could have ended in Spring 2022: David Arakhamia’, First Channel News, 25 November 2023, at https://www.1lurer.am/en/2023/11/25/Ukraine-conflict-could-have-ended-in-Spring-2022/1036355

[7] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[8] Jake Johnson, ‘Boris Johnson Pressured Zelenskyy to Ditch Peace Talks With Russia: Ukrainian Paper’, Common Dreams, 6 May 2022, at https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/05/06/boris-johnson-pressured-zelenskyy-ditch-peace-talks-russia-ukrainian-paper

[9] Jake Johnson, ‘Anti-War Voices Say More Diplomacy – Not ‘Weapons, Weapons’ – Needed in Ukraine’, 7 April 2022, Common Dreams, at https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/04/07/anti-war-voices-say-more-diplomacy-not-weapons-weapons-weapons-needed-ukraine

[10] Ben Aris, ‘Fresh evidence suggests that the April 2022 Istanbul peace deal to end the war in Ukraine was stillborn’, BNE Intellinews, 17 April 2024, at https://www.intellinews.com/fresh-evidence-suggests-that-the-april-2022-istanbul-peace-deal-to-end-the-war-in-ukraine-was-stillborn-321468/

[11] Jake Johnson, ‘Boris Johnson Pressured Zelenskyy to Ditch Peace Talks With Russia: Ukrainian Paper’, Common Dreams, 6 May 2022, at https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/05/06/boris-johnson-pressured-zelenskyy-ditch-peace-talks-russia-ukrainian-paper

[12] ‘Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine Before Bilateral Meeting’, The White House, 15 June 2024, at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/06/15/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-and-president-volodymyr-zelenskyy-of-ukraine-before-bilateral-meeting/

[13] ‘Summit on Peace in Ukraine’, Government of Switzerland, Department of Foreign Affairs, at https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/fdfa/fdfa/aktuell/dossiers/konferenz-zum-frieden-ukraine.html

[14] Srdja Trikovic, ‘Switzerland’s Ukraine Peace Summit Was a Call for Continued War’, Chronicles Magazine, 17 June 2024, at https://chroniclesmagazine.org/web/switzerlands-ukraine-peace-summit-was-a-call-for-continued-war/

The Caldron Pool Show

The Caldron Pool Show: #25 – Traditional Schooling Is Dying – Featuring Kale Kneale
The Caldron Pool Show: #33 – What Happened to the Household (with C.R. Wiley)
The Caldron Pool Show: #3 – Andrew Bogut
The Caldron Pool Show: #9 – George Christensen
Image

Support

If you value our work and would like to support us, you can do so by visiting our support page. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Visit our search page.

Copyright © 2024, Caldron Pool

Permissions

Everything published at Caldron Pool is protected by copyright and cannot be used and/or duplicated without prior written permission. Links and excerpts with full attribution are permitted. Published articles represent the opinions of the author and may not reflect the views of all contributors at Caldron Pool.