Mounting evidence proves that we cannot believe anything our officials say about the futility of negotiations.

by Branko Marcetic, Responsible Statecraft

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny the war in Ukraine could have been ended mere months into the Russian invasion — and that the U.S. and U.K. governments worked to prevent this from happening.

The latest piece of corroboration comes courtesy David Arakhamia, the parliamentary leader of Zelensky’s “Servant of the People” party who led the Ukrainian delegation in peace talks with Moscow. Arakhamia told journalist Natalia Moseichuk in a recent televised interview that “Russia’s goal was to push us to take neutrality,” meaning to commit to not joining NATO, and that “they were ready to end the war if we accept neutrality.”

NATO invitation to Ukraine

There were several reasons the negotiations ultimately collapsed, he said, including the need to change the Ukrainian constitution (which had been amended in February 2019 to enshrine the country’s NATO aspirations), and the fact that Johnson had come to Kyiv to inform Ukrainian officials the West wouldn’t sign any agreement with Moscow, instead urging: “let’s just fight.”

Arakhamia also said that Kyiv’s lack of trust in the Russian side to fulfill its end of the bargain meant that the peace deal “could only be done if there were security guarantees” — suggesting, obliquely, that negotiations could have borne fruit had they received the backing and involvement of NATO states. Western governments’ provision of security guarantees for Ukraine have long been part of the discussion for how to ensure the sustainability of a post-war peace deal, and in fact, Arakhmia himself disclosed in the same interview that “the Western allies advised us not to agree to ephemeral security guarantees.”

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