The following existing proposals and possible steps for ending the war in Ukraine through diplomacy have been extracted from a paper, Ceasefire and peace in Ukraine, published by the German section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War/ Physicians in Social Responsibility (IPPNW) in July.
In 2014, Germany and France launched the so-called ‘Normandy format’ to resolve the war in eastern Ukraine. The mediation rounds, each consisting of one representative from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, led to the signing of the Minsk II agreement in 2015.
This was negotiated with the participation and mediation of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) after the Minsk I ceasefire agreement failed.
Following a unanimous resolution of the UN security council, Minsk II entered into force under international law in February 2015.
However, the agreement was never implemented. Both sides repeatedly broke the ceasefire. At the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, attempts were made again, mediated by France, to reach agreements in order to comply with Minsk II. Both Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodomyr Zelenskyy declared their willingness to begin implementation.
In February 2022, a final round of talks in this format failed because Russia refused to issue a joint declaration. The reason: the Ukrainian side had refused to quote the Minsk agreement, according to which the future status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions after the war was to be clarified in consultations with the representatives of the districts.
With the recognition of the ‘people’s republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk on 21 February 2022, president Putin created new facts and finally broke with the Minsk II agreement. Russia’s subsequent invasion of Ukraine put an end to the peace process.
Istanbul Ten-Point Plan
During the Russian-Ukrainian talks in Istanbul on 29 March 2022, the Ukrainian delegation presented a new written proposal for a security guarantee agreement. According to media reports, the negotiations came ‘close to an… agreement on security guarantees’.
The 10 points of the Ukrainian proposal can be summarised as follows:
- Point 1: Ukraine accepts political neutrality. In return, it receives a guarantee under international law to implement non-aligned and nuclear-free status. Possible guarantor states could be Russia, Britain, China, USA, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland and Israel.
- Point 2: The international security guarantees should apply to Crimea, Sevastopol and individual areas of the Donbass.
- Point 3: Ukraine undertakes not to join any military alliance, not to station any foreign military bases or contingents and to conduct international military exercises only with the consent of the guarantor states. The guarantor states are to reaffirm their intention to promote Ukraine’s membership in the EU.
- Points 4-6: This outlines how the guarantor states are to proceed in the event of an armed attack against Ukraine, similar to Article 5 of the NATO charter.
- Point 7: Entry into force of the treaty after an all-Ukrainian referendum and anchoring in the Ukrainian constitution.
- Point 8: Endeavour to resolve outstanding issues relating to Crimea and Sevastopol within 15 years through bilateral negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. Proposal to agree by treaty not to resolve the Crimea and Sevastopol issues militarily, but to continue political and diplomatic efforts on this issue.
- Point 9: Modalities for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops, humanitarian corridors and exchange of bodies, and release of prisoners of war.
- Point 10: Personal meeting of the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to sign a corresponding treaty and make political decisions on the outstanding issues.
In the end, no agreement was reached in Istanbul for various reasons.
Italy’s peace plan
In May 2022, the Italian foreign minister Luigi di Maio presented a four-step peace plan to UN secretary-general António Guterres. This should involve the UN, the European Union (EU) and the OSCE in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
Under the supervision of an international mediation group, a four-step plan is to be implemented: ceasefire; Ukraine’s neutrality; resolution of territorial issues; and a European and international security pact. At each stage, the parties’ compliance with their obligations should be assessed so that the next step can be taken.
- Step 1: Negotiation of a ceasefire with simultaneous demilitarisation of the combat zones and the establishment of international control mechanisms.
- Step 2: Peace conference on the establishment of the neutral status of Ukraine, which is to be secured with international treaties in the sense of a guarantee of protection.
- Step 3: Bilateral agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the status of the disputed Ukrainian territories: broad autonomy of Crimea and areas of the Donbass within the national borders of Ukraine. Clarification of the issues of free access, free trade and payments as well as cultural and linguistic rights.
- Step 4: Negotiation of a multilateral agreement under the leadership of the OSCE on a European security pact, which also includes EU-Russia relations.
This treaty would include international disarmament and arms control, security guarantees, conflict prevention and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied Ukrainian territories. Within the framework of these measures, the sanctions against Russia could be withdrawn step by step.
International Working Group at the Vatican
At the invitation of the Vatican, an international working group led by the US economist Jeffrey Sachs developed solutions for a ‘just and lasting peace in Ukraine’ in June 2022.
“A negotiated peace would be a better outcome than the sacrifices of a war of attrition and a frozen conflict”
The final statement said: ‘The war in Ukraine is likely to develop into a war of attrition and end as a frozen conflict or a negotiated peace instead of an open victory of one side over the other. A negotiated peace would be a better outcome than the sacrifices of a war of attrition and a frozen conflict for both the peoples and the governments of Ukraine, Russia, the US and the EU and the rest of the world.’
According to the working group, the Istanbul Ten-Point Plan could be used as a basis for a possible peace agreement. The four-stage Italian peace plan would also be suitable.
The working group proposes the following approach:
- Neutrality of Ukraine.
- Security guarantees for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity by the five permanent members of the United Nations (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) as well as the EU and Turkey.
- Russian de facto [in practice – ed] control of Crimea for a period of several years – after which the parties would seek a permanent de jure [legally settled – ed] solution through diplomatic channels.
- Autonomy of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions within Ukraine, which could include economic, political and cultural aspects. ‘Guaranteed economic access for both Ukraine and Russia to the Black Sea ports of both countries. ‘The gradual lifting of Western sanctions against Russia linked to the withdrawal of the Russian military in accordance with the agreement.
- A multilateral fund for reconstruction and development of the war-torn regions of Ukraine – in which Russia is also involved – and immediate access for humanitarian aid.
- A UN security council resolution to provide international monitoring mechanisms to support the peace agreement.
Russian draft treaties on security guarantees
In December 2021, before the invasion of Ukraine in violation of international law, the Russian foreign ministry presented draft treaties for mutual security guarantees between Russia and NATO and between Russia and the USA.
The Ostinstitut Wismar published an unofficial German translation of the Russian draft treaties.
The draft treaties contain, among other things, the demand for a halt to NATO’s eastward expansion. Both the US government and NATO rejected this demand.
According to the US response, however, they were prepared to rule out the permanent stationing of combat troops and ground-launched missile systems in Ukraine – provided Moscow also made corresponding commitments.
According to political scientists, the Russian draft treaties could have been negotiated. Russia’s red line was Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
Peace Report 2022
The four leading German peace and conflict research institutes recommend in their Peace Report 2022 that Russia should be persuaded to find a negotiated solution. [More details can be found in the full IPPNW Germany document – ed]