Among Putin’s main demands for an end to the military offensive in Ukraine are the demilitarization and “denazification” of Kiev, the renunciation of Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the recognition of Russia’s sovereignty. on the Crimea and Donbass region. Photo: EFE/EPA/ALEKSEY NIKOLSKI
Initiated by Russia more than ten days ago, the military offensive in Ukraine should only be stopped – if it depends on the Kremlin – if Kiev complies with a series of demands imposed by President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president has already declared that he is ready to achieve all the Kremlin’s objectives, whether through “negotiation or war”.
Among Putin’s main demands to end the military offensive in Ukraine are the demilitarization and “denazification” of Kiev, the renunciation of Ukraine’s entry into NATO and the recognition of Russia’s sovereignty. on the Crimea and Donbass region.
“It has been stressed that the suspension of the special operation is only possible if Kiev stops military operations and complies with well-known Russian demands,” Putin said in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. . The Russian president was adamant and said that the war against Ukraine should end only when the government of Volodymyr Zelensky surrenders.
“We hope that in the next scheduled round of negotiations, Ukraine’s representatives will demonstrate a more constructive approach, fully taking into account emerging realities,” the Kremlin said in a note on the conversation between the two presidents. Russia also warned of “the futility of any attempt to prolong the negotiation process, which is used by Ukrainian security forces to pool their forces and resources”.
In a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, also on Sunday, Putin was adamant that he had no intention of giving up on the targets imposed on Kyiv.
1) Demilitarization and “denazification” of Ukraine
One of the stated objectives of the Kremlin since the start of the offensive is to demilitarize the neighboring country, so that Russia has “the assurance that there will be no threats from Ukraine”. For Putin, this would necessarily imply the cancellation of the Ukrainian armed forces, in particular their air power. According to Russian demands, Ukraine could no longer receive weapons from its Western allies.
Putin is also demanding what he called the “denazification” of Ukraine, referring to the neo-Nazi militias that have risen in the country since 2014. The statement was widely criticized by interlocutors, given that Zelensky, who commands the country, is a Jew.
“I have made the decision to carry out a special military operation. Its objective will be to defend the people who have suffered persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years. For this, we will aim for the demilitarization and denazification of the ‘Ukraine,” the Russian president said in a televised address.
Zelensky, for his part, refuted accusations that his government was Nazi. “To tell you [russos] that we are Nazis. But can a people who gave more than eight million lives for the victory over Nazism support the Nazis? How can I be a Nazi? Explain this to my grandfather, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine,” he said, also in a televised speech.
2) Ukraine outside NATO
Russia also demands, by “war or agreement”, to obtain a formal guarantee of Ukraine’s non-membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The formal compromise should have the approval of the Ukrainian parliament and the holding of a referendum on the issue. Currently, Ukraine is classified as an “associate country” in NATO – this means that the nation can join the organization in the future.
For Russia, it is “a matter of life or death”, because the entry of the neighboring country into the military alliance would strengthen NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe. In practice, this could become a threat to Russia insofar as it allows the entry of nuclear weapons and the installation of military bases of other countries – in particular the United States – in its vicinity. The compulsory member countries of NATO undertake to defend each other in the event of an armed attack against one of them.
“For the United States and its allies, it is Russia’s so-called detention policy, with obvious political dividends. And for our country, it is a matter of life and death, it is a question of our historical future as a people. This is not an exaggeration. a real threat not only to our interests, but to the very existence of our state and its sovereignty,” Putin said on February 24. “Imagine that Ukraine is a member of NATO, fully armed, with advanced means of attack like those of Poland and Romania, and begins an operation in Crimea.”
3) Recognition of Crimea and Donbass as Russian territories
Russia has also made it a condition to end the war against Ukraine that Kiev accept Moscow’s sovereignty over Crimea and the Donbass, as well as hand them over to Kremlin-backed rebels in the east of the country.
The Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014, although part of the international community did not recognize the action. “European countries, including France, think Crimea is part of Ukraine, but we think it’s part of the Russian Federation,” Putin said in February. “And what if you try to change this situation by military means? […] bear in mind that Ukraine’s doctrines declare Russia as an adversary and establish the possibility of it taking over Crimea, including by using military force”.
As for Donbass, Russia has been trying to annex the region since 2014, when Kremlin-backed rebels seized government buildings and other facilities in Luhansk and Donetsk. The areas controlled by the separatists became the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
Putin says the purpose of the measure is to defend a people subjected to years of “genocide by the Kiev regime”. “Circumstances force us to take decisive and immediate action. The people’s republics of Donbass have asked for help from Russia,” the president said as he launched the offensive against Ukraine.
“In this respect, in accordance with Article 51, Part VII of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), with the sanction of the Council of the Federation and in compliance with the Treaties of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with the DPR and the LPR, ratified by the Federal Assembly, I have decided to carry out a special military operation,” he said.