Russian President Vladimir Putin further clarified his demands in return for stopping his invasion into Ukraine. Turkish President Recep Tayyip and Putin discussed Putin’s demands in a phone call late last week, Ibrahim Kalin, an advisor to Erdogan said to the BBC.
Turkey, a NATO member that has taken a milder stance toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has served as a conduit for diplomacy while attempting to stay neutral on the issue.
Last week Turkey hosted the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine for talks following earlier talks held across the Ukrainian border in Belarus, a close ally of Russia.
Here are the six demands Putin is making of Ukraine for a peace deal to take place:
Retire Aspirations of NATO Membership
Putin has long rallied against eastward expansion of NATO. This demand might be the easiest to meet as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he “long ago” had second thoughts about joining NATO, partly because NATO wasn’t speeding up the process.
Formally Cede Crimea to Russia
To date, Ukraine and NATO have not recognized Crimea as Russian territory, instead referring to Russian occupation since 2014 as an “illegal annexation.” Since Ukraine was unable to defend the land from Russia, Crimea is functionally Russian already, but forcing Ukraine to recognize the peninsula as Russian would allow a shift in the borders accepted by the West and could lead to a reassignment of Black Sea oil interests. It would also simply force Ukraine to acknowledge a huge defeat, which Putin would like to savor.
Ukraine’s military was beefed up in response to the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in the Donbas which resulted. Putin wants to make sure Ukraine is stripped of its military might and therefore demanding that Ukraine relinquish weapons that could be used within striking distance of Russia.
Recognition of Independence of Separatist Republics in Donetsk and Lugansk
Putin recognized these separatist governments in eastern Ukraine last month as part of the ramp-up to invading Ukraine. Should Ukraine meet this demand, these small republics in the Donbas may quickly merge with the Russian Federation or become like Belarus, which remains a separate nation while strategically acting as an extension of Russia’s territory.
Russian Recognized as an Official Language
Most Ukrainians can speak and understand Russian, although the Ukrainian language has been made more distinct in recent years to fortify Ukrainian nationalism. Like many Ukrainians, even President Zelensky’s first language is Russian. In 2019, Ukraine passed a law requiring official business to be conducted in Ukrainian and included quotas for broadcasting and publishing TV media and books in Ukrainian. The Kremlin harshly criticized this legislation as discriminating to ethnic Russians, although the lines between ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians is often blurred in the former Soviet Republic.
Russians are very proud of having beaten back Nazi forces in World War II. By the same token, President Zelensky, who identifies as Jewish, is deeply defensive of this accusation. Turkey, therefore, believes it will be an easy ask for Zelensky to condemn Nazism and make a commitment to root it out of his country.