[…] Amid the gloom, it would be easy to forget the real progress that negotiators have already made. In late March, Ukrainian diplomats introduced an innovative framework for a deal that could provide a pathway out of the war. And crucially, the proposal, which was leaked to the press following talks in Istanbul on March 29, has already received at least preliminary support from both sides. At the center of the proposed deal is a trade: Kyiv would renounce its ambitions to join NATO and embrace permanent neutrality in return for receiving security guarantees from both its Western partners and from Russia.
Perhaps because of its novelty, the significance of the Istanbul proposal has yet to be appreciated in many Western capitals, where security guarantees have become synonymous with treaties of alliance. Unlike an alliance, which unites close partners in common defense, usually against a potential enemy, the proposed deal calls for geopolitical rivals to guarantee Ukraine’s long-term security jointly, outside of an alliance structure—and to do so despite one of the rivals’ ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. If the proposal were to become the basis of an eventual settlement, the result would be a mechanism, however counterintuitive, that would make Russia itself a stakeholder in Ukraine’s security. Läs artikel