Ukrainian neutrality: a ‘golden bridge’ out of the current geopolitical trap,

Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Whether deliberately or not, the Russian government has left the United States and NATO a perfect “golden bridge” out of the trap that is developing in Ukraine. In diplomatic parlance, this means finding the other side a way of abandoning an untenable position without excessive loss of face or sacrifice of truly important interests.

In the present crisis between Russia and the West, the golden bridge is Ukrainian neutrality, along the general lines of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955, by which Western and Soviet occupying troops withdrew from that country, allowing it to develop as a successful free-market democracy. The Biden administration, either directly or through German and French mediation, should seek to “own” the idea of Ukrainian neutrality as its response to Russia’s demands.

The Russian demand that Ukraine be excluded from NATO and that NATO and Washington promise not to station troops or conduct military exercises near Russia’s borders is clearly unacceptable as it stands. It asks for concessions from the West without offering anything in return. It is also, however, only an initial bargaining move. If the West in return proposes Ukrainian neutrality, it will be very difficult for Russia to refuse. The issue of European Union membership can be shelved, since — let us be honest — there is no chance of Ukraine joining the EU in any foreseeable future. Läs artikel