July 14, 2024

Putin Reveals Details of Draft Treaty on Ukrainian Neutrality During Meeting with African Leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin shows a document at an event in St. Petersburg, June 17, 2023. © Pavel Bednyakov / Sputnik
Russian President Vladimir Putin shows a document at an event in St. Petersburg, June 17, 2023. © Pavel Bednyakov / Sputnik

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled previously undisclosed details of a draft treaty on Ukrainian neutrality during a meeting with African leaders in Saint Petersburg on Saturday.

The African leaders’ delegation, which included representatives from Senegal, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Congo Republic, Comoros, and South Africa had visited Kyiv Friday before arriving in Saint Petersburg.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a 10-point roadmap for de-escalating the conflict, urging both sides to work towards a resolution, although the first point was just to listen.

The African leaders were on a peace-building mission, and Putin took the opportunity to showcase the documents that emerged from peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv in March 2022. However, he said that the Ukrainian delegation abruptly abandoned the agreed-upon terms after signing them.

Putin showcased the draft documents, which had been under discussion between Russian and Ukrainian representatives over a year ago in Turkey. One of the documents, titled the “Treaty on the Permanent Neutrality and Security Guarantees for Ukraine,” had been signed by the Ukrainian delegation. The treaty aimed to establish “permanent neutrality” in Ukraine’s Constitution, with Russia, the US, Britain, China, and France listed as guarantors.

Putin also presented an addendum outlining proposals from both Russia and Ukraine regarding the size and equipment of Ukraine’s standing army during peacetime. Moscow proposed capping the number of military personnel at 85,000 and the National Guard members at 15,000, while Kyiv suggested maintaining up to 250,000 troops in its Armed Forces.

The draft further detailed the suggested numbers of tanks, armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, combat aircraft, and “auxiliary” aircraft, with Moscow advocating for more conservative figures and Kyiv aiming for higher numbers.

The peace negotiations collapsed in the spring of 2022 following accusations by Ukrainian officials that Russian troops had killed civilians in several small cities near Kyiv. These allegations emerged after Russian soldiers had withdrawn from areas outside the Ukrainian capital as a goodwill gesture. The Kremlin consistently denied involvement in any atrocities in Ukraine.

During the meeting, Putin blamed Ukraine for sabotaging the negotiations, accusing Ukrainian authorities of disregarding their commitments. He expressed concerns about the lack of guarantees for future agreements but emphasized Russia’s willingness to continue negotiations despite the setbacks.

Kyiv, however, reiterated its position that negotiations could only commence once Russia surrendered Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014, along with four other regions that followed suit in referendums held in September 2022.

Putin argued that Russia’s acquisition of these territories adhered to international law and the UN Charter, citing the need to protect the people of Donbas, who opposed the 2014 coup in Kyiv.

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