Options for a Russia-Ukraine Settlement Treaty
Laurie Meadows
11 June 2022 [ last edited 22 April 2023 0232 UTC]

Tipping point in the Ukraine conflict   Russia's leadership outstanding - avoids loss   There won't be nuclear war   Russia's conflict resolution measures   There will be no mediators

The political border      Political borders and security borders are different 

option - redrawn Ukrainian      option - become an autonomous region of Ukraine     option - independent state     An Autonomous Port City of Odessa?    The demilitarized zone concept

The Mother of all treaties

Surrender and post-war reconciliation?     No surrender - a negotiated settlement     Russia's Terms for Settlement    Prosecution of neo nazis    Ukraine - Russia reconciliation is only possible   

The issue of rockets    Roadmap to verification   

This is a follow up article to the article I wrote on 19th of February 2022, 5 days before the launch of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. It was called 'Mutually Assured Destruction - the Prelude to Mutually Assured Security'. At the time, I didn't think Russia would move into the Donesk. I wrote:

"The current lead that Russia has in missile and defensive systems might persuade the US to agree to verifiable arms control, but this is the work of years.
In the meantime, the West provokes Russia relentlessly, across all dimensions of life. This is dangerous. It is time for nations to comply with their obligations under the UN Charter. A mechanism must be found accelerate a move to universal security and the peace dividend it brings.
And Russia has done this, in a stunning and unexpected move, a move missed by the entire media."

I was referring to an article I published on the same day 'Blindsided by Peace?' The "stunning and unexpected move" was the December 2021 presentation to the US and to NATO of new draft Security Treaties. One was written for NATO as an organization, and the other for the United States. I note "The provisions are short and the language uncompromising. They secure Russia's security while at the same time securing European security."

Well, the USA didn't sign, and neither did NATO. I now suspect the Russians had intelligence that an assault against the breakaway republics and on into Russia's Crimea was planned, and was maybe only months from being launched. I now suspect the Americans knew that Russia suspected something was in the offing, even if the exact date wasn't known. As the Russian President Vladimir Putin commented in 2015 "Over 50 years ago the streets of Leningrad taught me a rule of thumb - if a fight is inevitable - you have to hit first".

"Embassy employees are being evacuated and Anglo-Saxons are urged to leave Ukraine as soon as possible. Some food for thought: what if the Anglo-Saxons are preparing something of their own and this is why they are evacuating their staff? We see their actions."
Sergey Lavrov 10 February 2022

No matter how many more months the conflict in Ukraine goes on, Russia has 'won'. Or rather, nearly achieved it's initial objectives of helping the Lughansk and Donesk Republics to push out the Ukrainian armed forces - many of the Ukrainian units there were manned with white supremacist nationalists, espousing Nazi ideas. To the extent these extremists are captured, killed or pushed out, then de-nazification - another Russian objective - is achieved, at least in what were the new Republics (now part of the Russian Federation).

The tipping point

By January 2023 the tipping point seemed near. It was obvious the West (who are the armers and instigators of the conflict) would have to tell the Ukrainian government to come to terms. A signed peace treaty would be required. But what part could the Western governments play?  It is now a matter of historic record that the signature of Western politicians on agreements are worthless, and the more so the signature of Ukrainian politicians. In March 2022, Russia and Ukraine came to terms of settlement that both found acceptable. Then the UK's Boris Johnson swept in and the Ukrainians immediately backed out.

The question I was asking myself in early January 2023 was this - will Russia now ignore a future Ukrainian capitulation and brush aside Ukraine requests to agree on terms? After all, Ukraine had the chance for peace and ignored it.

The Russians, faced with a proxy NATO army that was constantly being re-armed by the US and it's NATO 'allies', had to change it's military approach. It called up conscripts, several hundred thousand, started training them, and at the same time set about destroying - with pinpoint accuracy -  the electricity supply to Ukraine - including to Kiev. With artillery dominance, air dominance, and the equivalent of ten battalions of fresh troops, it could grind on and capture as much Ukrainian territory as it wanted, as long as it was willing to pay for it in 'blood and treasure' - as the saying goes.

But thanks to NATO intransigence, the blood price NATO forced Russia to pay (and 'set up' Ukraine to pay) meant that the only possible outcome acceptable to Russia was Ukrainian surrender.

I don't know what Russia will do in future. I do know what Russia wants for itself, and for others, because it has publicly stated it. I do know it wants normal relations with Ukraine, because it has said so. And the Russians almost never lie.
"Even some seemingly respectable media outlets write about an “operation” that we are supposedly preparing with the aim of seizing Kiev and other Ukrainian cities or that some “coup” is being prepared with a view to putting a puppet regime in power in the Ukrainian capital."
Sergey Lavrov 10 February 2022

Looking back to that date, we can guess an operation was being planned 2 weeks before the launch of the special military operation. But not to 'seize' Kiev. Not to 'seize' (note that word) 'other Ukrainian cities'. Not to place a puppet regime in power. In retrospect, Russia badly miscalculated. Russia thought the sheer display of will and power would cause Ukrainians to rise up and replace the unpopular Zelensky government, issues would be settled, the parts of the Donbass that wanted protection would be absorbed in Russia, and relations would start to be rebuilt.This 'soft war' approach failed. Where to from here?

We are left with the stated aim - liberation of the 2 Republics. Kiev won't be taken. Lviv won't be taken. What of other Ukrainian cities?

Question: [...] Does Russia intend to demand that Kiev additionally recognise independence of the Kherson Region and part of the Zaporozhye Region currently controlled by the Russian forces, or their accession to Russia?
Sergey Lavrov: This question will be answered by the people living in the liberated territories. They are saying that they want to choose their future on their own. We fully respect this position.
Sergey Lavrov 6 June 2022

The question has now been answered.

"The Donetsk People's Republic, as well as the Lugansk People's Republic, Kherson region and Zaporozhye region, overwhelmingly supported joining Russia during their September referendums.

Russia's Federation Council ratified the treaties on the DPR's and LPR's admission to Russia on Tuesday, as well as Zaporozhye region and Kherson region. At the same time, the parliaments of the DPR and LPR also voted to ratify the agreements.

The DPR and LPR, Zaporozhye region and Kherson region held referendums on joining the Russian Federation on September 23-27. Despite shelling by Ukraine and the constant threat of attacks, voter turnout was considerably high, and most people backed the idea of becoming part of Russia: 99.23% in the DPR, 98.42% in the LPR, 93.11% in Zaporozhye region and 87.05% in Kherson region.

Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council, former President Dmitry Medvedev addressed the votes, saying the outcome is clear and adding "welcome to Russia!"
Following the votes, President Vladimir Putin and the heads of two republics and two regions signed agreements on the accession of the territories to Russia.
Addressing the historical moment during the ceremony, the Russian president stressed that the people of the four territories had "made their unequivocal choice." He added that "the people living in Lugansk and Donetsk, in Kherson and Zaporozhye have become our citizens, forever," noting that Moscow will use every means to protect them."
Sputnik News 4 October 2022

Merge of the Russian and Ukrainian people of the Eastern Oblasts with the Russian Federation

"Citizens of Russia, citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, deputies of the State Duma, senators of the Russian Federation,

As you know, referendums have been held in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. The ballots have been counted and the results have been announced. The people have made their unequivocal choice.

Today we will sign treaties on the accession of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic, Zaporozhye Region and Kherson Region to the Russian Federation. I have no doubt that the Federal Assembly will support the constitutional laws on the accession to Russia and the establishment of four new regions, our new constituent entities of the Russian Federation, because this is the will of millions of people. (Applause.)

It is undoubtedly their right, an inherent right sealed in Article 1 of the UN Charter, which directly states the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples."
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin 30 September 2022

"We call on the Kiev regime to immediately cease fire and all hostilities; to end the war it unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table.

We are ready for this, as we have said more than once. But the choice of the people in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson will not be discussed
. The decision has been made, and Russia will not betray it.

Kiev’s current authorities should respect this free expression of the people’s will; there is no other way. This is the only way to peace."

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin 30 September 2022

Time and again the Russian government has stated that the future of other areas will be decided by the people who live there themselves. Therefore, there will be a referendum on Odessa and Nikolaev. How will it be worded? We will have to wait to see. How long before conditions to hold it are suitable? Who should be at the table to discuss peace terms?

Talk to someone who has power.

"Where MacGregor sits is the head of the table"

This quote is from the book 'Rob Roy' by Sir Walter Scott. It embodies the reality that outstanding leaders are almost instinctively recognised by all who exercise power, whether they admit it or not.

Such leaders command true respect (not the respect that comes from fear) because they have earned respect. Not by dramatic actions, but by effecting popular outcomes, by being consistent over time, by being honest, calm, by not turning away and blaming others when things unexpectedly go badly, by being patient and far sighted. Such a rare person knows the all the dimensions of power - diplomatic, military, informational, and economic.

Russia, just like any other country, is concerned with one thing - the comfort and happiness of its people.

"Our greatest concern and the main task is to increase people’s incomes. This is our priority, our number one task, and we are not going to resolve it by simple linear methods. To do this, we must ensure the growth of the economy and a change of its infrastructure.

This is a long-term goal.

We are not going to use populist methods.

It is based on qualitative economic growth that we intend to resolve major social tasks - including an increase in the incomes of the Russian people and the demographic problem, which is our second most important task.

It implies a package of social issues: healthcare, education and support for families with children.

To resolve all these tasks, we have mapped out certain national development goals...Therefore, we should resolve the two main problems ‒ improve demography and increase people’s incomes, raise their quality of life on this serious economic foundation I have just mentioned. This is what we are going to do in the near future"
Vladimir Putin 14 October 2021

Russia signed into law a document outlining national goals and strategic objectives on 7th May 2018. They covered 12 areas, and in many cases, listed very specific key indicators of success which had to be met by 2024. The areas covered will be familiar to you, because most countries have similar desires for their people :
All this is expensive, both in money and effort. A huge amount of money has already been sunk into it. If you were the Russian government, would you risk destruction of all your hard won social progress with an endless Afghan-style war in Ukraine?

Ukraine's leadership had a small window of opportunity to stop their Western-fuelled self-destruction. That opportunity required a true leader, but none was forthcoming. The opportunity has passed, and the West continued to de facto destroy Ukraine by continuing and escalating the conflict.

The West has openly set out to destroy the Russian Federation. There are 4 possible means of destroying the Russian State:

We can dismiss nuclear strikes - even by the Americans. The Russian and American Presidents have signed a declaration that a nuclear war cannot be won, and must not be fought. Both are bound by chains of terror. I have fully covered this matter in my article 'The Time Has Come'. Russia's nuclear strike policy was very clearly explained by the Russian President in 2018, and is appended to my article. Nothing more need be said.

Russia was always going to win the NATO proxy conventional war. Why? because Russia has advanced standoff missiles, superior electronic suppression, superior air defense, superior aircraft, superior training in urban warfare (in Syria) - the list goes on. If NATO didn't know that, then they are professionally incompetent.

Russia does full spectrum conflict resolution (except it doesn't do much propaganda work). It know power comes from diplomacy backstopped by military competence (in all its many dimensions), and from a robust and self-reliant domestic economy. Its military responses are very carefully calibrated, constantly re-assessed and adjusted. Russia will not win 'at any cost'. It will create a military-economic-human nexus where the opposing party cannot but come to terms.

Biological warfare we can dismiss. When a new instance of a pathogen arises it's genome will be pulled apart and examined, the consensus origin found, it's genetic differences examined for structure and placement on and between chromosomes or RNA, and conclusions drawn. An attack on Russia with biological weapons will draw an immediate nuclear or hypersonic kinetic-energy response.

Economic warfare will eventually fail. It will cause quite a bit of pain for a year or two, but it has no chance of succeeding. What's more, it damages those who made the attack. I have covered this in detail in 'The West's Apartheid International Trading System'.

Russia doesn't need and doesn't want armed conflict - Russia has always wanted peace

Ukraine will come to terms because it is reaching a tipping point, where the things that anyone cares about are being lost or have become uncertain and insecure. Healthcare, housing, education, a good job, a stable and reasonably comfortable life, certainty, stability, freedom from fear - this is what people must have.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (as of 29 May 2022), 6.8 million Ukrainians had left Ukraine. Around 60% (4 million) left for Poland. About 2.4 million left for Russia. Around 400,000 left for other EU countries. Russia has targeted power distribution and transformer centers, which of course affects electricity, pumps for water and so on (Russia continues to supply Ukraine with gas for heating). Hundreds of thousands of young and middle aged men have been killed or wounded in the conflict. As a result, all manner of normal services have been degraded, and will remain degraded for years. Ukraine's public debt was about 50% of GDP in 2021, but by the end of 2022 it had reached about 78% of GDP. Ukraine is now deeply in debt to the West, as relatively little of the western military 'aide' is free.

The west supplies artillery and rockets that can reach further and further in Russia. Therefore the width of the Russian occupied 'buffer zone' between Russia's border and the rest of Ukraine becomes wider. No one can plan anything, everything is uncertain.

At a certain point the Ukrainian people demand peace.

Russia will provide peace on reasonable terms. But the longer the Ukraine politicians keep up a fight they know is hopeless, the longer they deliberately kill civilians in the republics, the worse the terms will be. Russia still sees Ukraine as part of the Slavic orbit, a kindred people. There are deep roots between the two countries. It will never set out to humiliate Ukraine, or try to bleed it dry. Russia thinks long term - very long term. But the terms will be set without US or European interference.

"The end, ways, and means, they lack that, to be able to go back to the pre-2014.

The second point that I would make is, you know, as you look at the DIME—diplomatic, informational, military, and economic—we’re woefully lacking on the diplomatic piece of this. If you notice, there’s no diplomacy going on at all to trying to get to some type of negotiations. And I don’t think that we can lead that, given where Putin thinks about us.

But if you sit back and think about those that could possibly be a part of this negotiation team, you know, you have the—two of them are in—that I’m going to list are in NATO. One is President Orbán out of Hungary. Perhaps he can help out in the negotiation effort. The other one is President Erdoğan of Turkey. Longtime friends of President Putin, although some view that relationship as transactional. I don’t know. Let’s put it to the test and see."
Stephen Twitty, former Deputy Commander of the United States European Command  (2018–2020), May 31 2022

Russia will not deal with 'mediators', or, at least, not Western mediators.
"This is the gist of the EU’s mediation. Some process started in the Balkans after Kosovo proclaimed “independence” unilaterally and without any referendum. The UN General Assembly invited the EU to mediate between Pristina and Belgrade and its effort was rather successful: in 2013, the agreement was reached on establishing the Community of Serbian Municipalities of Kosovo. In 2014, when a coup was staged in Ukraine and the “counterterrorism” forces launched an operation against Donbass and Russians in Ukraine, the EU also acted as a mediator. This led to the signing of the Minsk agreements that established certain rules, just as with regard to the Serbian municipalities in Kosovo.

The EU made a solemn promise to support a special status for northern Kosovo and eastern Ukraine. The status did not imply any complicated things: to let people speak their native tongue (Serbians were supposed to be allowed to speak Serbian and Russians in Ukraine to speak Russian), teach children in schools in their native tongue, use it in daily life and have a certain autonomy as regards law-enforcement and economic ties with neighbouring regions (northern Kosovo with Serbia and eastern Ukraine with Russia). Identical agreements were made, which urged respect for national minorities in full conformity with international European conventions on the rights of these groups.

The EU announced that it had succeeded in both cases.

But it shamefully failed in both cases and had to admit it later on by saying it could not persuade Kiev to fulfil the Minsk agreements [pdf] or make Pristina abide by its agreements with Belgrade. There is something in common as regards the EU’s treatment of different areas in our common geopolitical space, its goals, its competence and its ability to make deals...I have repeatedly emphasised the main geopolitical conclusion from this situation: it is now impossible to agree with Europe on anything and be sure that they will deliver on their obligations."
Sergey Lavrov 6 June 2022

EU 'mediators' have failed twice now. They are useless.

There will be no US mediators (although there will need to be channels to coordinate the removal of all US military personnel, including their proxies and their NATO 'pseudoUkrainian nationals' from Ukraine).

"When asked by reporters over possible bilateral talks with Washington on Ukraine, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko replied, “No, we are not.”
However, the diplomat stated that Moscow is ready to hold negotiations with Ukraine “without any preconditions,” except for the key condition – “that Ukraine shows goodwill.”"
Andrey Rudenko, Deputy Foreign Minister, RT News, 8 November 2022

"Recently, these instructors received the right to acquire Ukrainian citizenship in a simplified way. This is sacrilegious and humiliating. People who have lived in Donbass forever are deprived of the opportunity to have the legal right to their own language, while those who have never lived in Donbass and have come there obviously not to establish peace are granted the right to receive Ukrainian citizenship easily and without any ties. ...What are the Ukrainian authorities after? They are trying not only to legalise the presence of military instructors in the country but also to skirt around the demand of the Minsk Package of Measures on the withdrawal of foreign armed formations, combat hardware and mercenaries from Ukraine. If it transpires that foreign military instructors are present on their territory, they will tell us that these are not military instructors but holders of Ukrainian citizenship."
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, 24 December 2021

There will be no western mediators.

"But we are also aware of Kiev’s position – they kept saying they wanted talks, and even sort of asked for them, but have now passed an official decision that bans such talks. Well, what is there to discuss?

As you may be aware, speaking at the Kremlin when announcing the decision on the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, I said we are open. We have always said that we are open. We reached certain agreements in Istanbul, after all.

These agreements were almost initialled. But as soon as our troops withdrew from Kiev, the Kiev authorities lost any interest in the talks. That is all there is to it.

If they ever get ready for this, we will welcome it. At that point, the mediation efforts of all the stakeholders may come in handy.
Vladimir Putin, October 14 2023

Who are the stakeholders? The 'stakeholders' are the United Nations, the Red Cross, and perhaps the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In investment terms, China, like the EU, has significant investments in Ukrainian agriculture and in grain export facilities in Odessa. China is a good trade partner for Ukraine (in early 2023 the combined bilateral trade between the two was around $1 billion a month). Chinese imports into Ukraine provide Ukrainians with cheap and affordable consumer goods, and trade between Ukraine and China is balanced. Truly massive amounts of money will be needed to rebuild Ukraine, which China to an extent can provide. Ukraine joined the 'Belt and Road Initiative' in 2014, so it is in Ukraine's long-term interests to see China further develop transport infrastructure from China, through Russia (with 'belt and road' links to Eurasia and beyond) to Ukraine and into Europe.

Matters are unlikely to be dealt with by the Ukrainian President negotiating directly with the Russian President. Issues will be dealt with between competent officials, and only when everything is worked out in greatest detail will any agreement be signed. Turkie, the UAE, Egypt, maybe Hungary, maybe Israel, might play a role - but China seems likely to take the lead.

On February 18th 2023, at the Munich Peace Conference, China announced an intention to play a role in mediating peace. On February 24th it publicly released it's 12 point peace plan. In March 2023 President Xi was scheduled to visit President Putin - not long after President Xi successfully negotiated a reconciliation agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps his team have already worked with the Ukrainian and Russian sides to come to a mutually acceptable agreement behind the scenes, with the March visit by Mr. Xi as the final movement of a well orchestrated piece.

There will possibly be a photo opportunity, where whoever is in charge in Ukraine is treated with the usual courtesy by the Russian diplomats. But that's it. It is more likely that a trusted President (probably Mr. Xi) will be the facilitator, and the photo op will be with him, plus high level officials from both combating countries. Where might the photo op be? Odessa might be a good choice.

Political borders and security borders - 2 different things

"Vladimir Putin has commented on the situation that emerged in connection with the arrival of the new weapons. I can only add that the longer-range arms you supply, the farther will we push from our border the line where the neo-Nazis will be able to threaten the Russian Federation...let me reiterate the following.  The West has decided to supply weapons that, in all evidence, are capable of reaching not only the border areas of the Russian Federation but also its more remote points. Politicians and legislators in Ukraine itself are laughing at the Americans, who said they believed Vladimir Zelensky’s promise not to shell Russia. ...I will stress once again: the longer-range are the systems supplied to the Kiev regime, the farther will we push the Nazis from the line from which threats emanate for the Russian population of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. "
Sergey Lavrov 6 June 2022

"...[The West] has significant leverage in the operation. We are now trying to move the Ukrainian artillery to a distance that will not pose a threat to our territories, but the more long-range weapons they send to Kiev, the further they will need to move them away from the territories that are part of our country."
Sergey Lavrov 2 February 2023

What is "the line" Sergey Lavrov refers to? It is the point at which shells and rockets can reach not just Russia, but also "the Russian population of Ukraine".  Where, then is the 'Russian population' of Ukraine located?  According to wikipedia, quoting a 2004 study, the percent of Russian language speakers by region (oblast) is:

Dnipropetrovsk      72%
Zaporizhia             81%
Odessa                  85%
Kharkiv                 74%
Mykolaiv               66%

This data is out of date, and populations will have shifted a great deal in the last 18 years. Many Ukrainians in the east have fled to Russia. Many families are made up of both Ukrainian speaking and Russian speaking people. And language spoken is not the sole determinant of how people identify themselves. Some Ukrainians may want to 'vote Russia', so to speak, for economic advantage. Some 'Russians' may identify with Ukraine for many reasons, from family ties, business, to ideological views.

Russiannlanguage imortance by oblast 2005

Kherson, just above Crimea, had about 25% of people who spoke Russia as their native language in 2001, and in a 2005 survey 46% of Khersonians thought Russian should have the status as a second state language in Ukraine. This is lower than the Oblasts that surround Kherson, yet Russia announced on June 22 2022 a referendum on accession of Kherson region to Russia would be in held in Autumn, and so it did. Kherson is a land bridge to Crimea and so is of enormous strategic importance to Russia. The oblast had already been 'Russified' before the referendum. The matter was decided in late September 2022. 87% of people in the Kherson region who participated in the referendum opted to join the Russian Federation. The Zaporozhye referendum was held soon after, with a similar high positive vote.

This means Russia can play the great 'definition game'. Russia can use any criterion that suits it's political objectives to decide for the population just where 'Russian Ukraine' ends and "Ukrainian Ukraine' begins.

One thing is certain - the longer the range of weapons supplied to Ukraine by NATO, the wider the 'demilitarized' zone has to be. So NATO effectively is causing a wider and wider band of Russian de-weaponisation bounding the Donbass. Once fully under Russian control, the demilitarised zones may well decide for themselves to join Russia, especially if Russia guarantees their security. The area currently under Russian control includes major crop growing areas as well as industrial plant, and produces around 50% of Ukraine's GDP. If Mykolaiv and Odessa (industrial areas) are lost to the Russia, then Russia will control +/- 75% of Ukrainian GDP. Ukraine is deeply indebted to the west, & will be unable to service it's obligations on a reduced industrial and agricultural base. It is on the way to becoming a failed state. (For current Oblasts and major cities see this map.)

The Ukraine government policy of sending citizens to industrial scale death and injury instead of establishing an agreed border is incomprehensible. Protracting the war means even more trained people will flee overseas, many more will be killed. Ultimately people will move to where conditions of life are best. Ultimately, that will be the Russian Federation. No one wants war. The new Russian regions can focus on economic matters, without the waste of money on military equipment. Inevitably Ukrainian economic refugees will storm the borders of the new Russia.

But Russia is very sensitive to the problems of badly defined boundaries. The Russian President has spent endless hours mediating boundary disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. When the Soviet Union dissolved itself it didn't fully define some borders. Even today, around 450 kilometres of the 970-kilometre Tajik-Kyrgyz border remain undemarcated, and remain a  source of constant disputes.

But the 'military border' in Ukraine simply cannot be finally set until the political border is set. (Albeit when Ukraine comes to terms, a temporary border may have to be set while the political borders are finalised. At the moment, let's set aside the possibility of the total breakup of Ukraine).

The political Border

Let's consider precedent. Russia used a popular referendum (involving outside monitoring groups) to determine if Crimea was to join Russia or not. Russia was dissatisfied that a referendum was not used (by the EU) in determining whether Kosovo would become an autonomous region or not. But Crimea was strongly pro-Russia, and these other Ukrainian regions are much less easily defined one way or the other.

As a general principle, the choices on any referendum probably have to allow for four states:
These options determine the political boundaries. Now we can guess at where the military line will be. Again we can look at precedent. There was a demilitarised zone around Lughansk and Donetsk, monitored by the OSCE. Large caliber artillery had to be pulled back a proscribed distance from the 'line of contact'. (This did not stop the Nazis killing 14,000 people by shelling, mortars and sniping in the breakaway regions over the course of 8 years. That was then. It will be totally different this time)

Redrawn Ukrainian

Obviously, this will be status quo less Lughansk, Donesk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson Oblasts (although Russia was forced to withdraw from the territory west of the Dneiper river, as Ukraine, with complicity of the USA, was attacking the hydroelectric dam on the river with American HIMAR missiles).

A line will be drawn at a distance from the Lughansk and Donesk Zaporozhye, and Kherson Oblast borders that is a little beyond the point of the range of the longest range weapon that Ukraine or the 2 Republics have. A similar maritime line will have to be drawn offshore the Black Sea (if a concession is made in Odessa). To simplify matters, all large weapons, even of shorter range, might be prohibited from the line up to the (new) borders of Russia. All we need do is look at the text of the Minsk 2 agreement. It is all there. Of course the language will be changed, from 'Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine' to the Ukrainian territories bordering the Russian Federation. The monitoring of military lines will likely be done by Russian and Eurasian Economic Union military or military police. Once the situation has calmed down, normal electronic monitoring methods by Russia, including with satellite and drone assistance, should suffice.

Minsk 2 clause 4 is no longer relevant, but an initial peace agreement will likely require Ukraine to acknowledge that the relevant Oblasts are now irrevocably part of the Russian Federation. The principles of preventing reprisals of Russians in other parts of Ukraine is mentioned in clause 5 ("...a law that forbids persecution and punishment of persons"). This will have to be passed in the Ukrainian Rada before Russian occupation forces leave areas where there is a significant risk of persecution of Russians. The President of Russia has undertaken to protect all Russians. Of course, the Europeans, who worked so assiduously to cause this disaster, will be charged through the OSCE with making sure the population remains safe and any criminals are found and punished. And the OSCE will have to implement suppression of Nazi ideology and ensure the freedom of information and expression, protection of minorities and human rights - that is their job.

Clause 8 is no longer relevant; part of clause 9 will be kept to ensure no control is handed back to Ukraine until the constitutional changes to de-nazify (rather than decentralise, as stated in the Minsk 2 Agreement) are passed in the Rada.

Clause 10 is needed to de-militarise Ukraine (expelling all foreign forces), and this too will have to be embedded in the constitution to prevent NATO or any other similar grouping placing itself in the country (including by issuing a Ukrainian passport to NATO military staff, foreign mercenaries, and other proxy imposters).

"President Putin has said many times, both in January and early February, that Russia will not tolerate a model of European security that relies on NATO as the dominant force. Especially when it's right on our doorstep.

We've repeatedly said that we want to find an alternative solution - a solution that would reliably address security concerns of Ukraine, the nations of Europe, and, naturally, Russia. And that's the direction we should take.

President Zelensky said that he was interested in security guarantees for Ukraine. I see this as a positive development. Our negotiators are ready to discuss these guarantees..."
Sergey Lavrov 2 March 2022

Clauses preventing Ukraine ever developing or hosting nuclear weapons will be required, and also the terms will have to include wording to recognise that nuclear weapons  pose an unacceptable existential threat to Russia and the existence of which on Ukrainian territory will result in a military response. This allows Russia to attack Ukraine at any time that they renege on this key part.

"The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, has stated that the SVR had obtained intelligence showing that Ukraine was working on building its own nuclear weapons."
- Sputnik News 03 March 2022

But we have to pay attention the 'all inclusive' nature of Sergey Lavrov's statement. The Russian government has previously commented that Ukraine is not really the main problem for Russia. Clearly, Russian and European mutual indivisible security is. And this must include 'detaching' USA, as it has embedded itself into it's European host's tissues very deeply. But we have to acknowledge that the European leaders are not only incompetent in matters of securing peace, they are obedient subjects of the US government, and therefore impotent.

The Russian Federation may not be able to use the necessity of a Ukraine settlement to achieve a wider Europe - Russia mutual security settlement. The time for a security Treaty with the west may not be now, and conditions for a settlement may not mature for a long time into the future.

Perhaps that doesn't matter. Russia may achieve it's security through its highly developed air defense system, combined with an ability to use it's hypersonic missiles to immediately punitively strike those who dare to strike it, no matter how wide the ocean between Russia and the US mainland. Russia may have to fund and deploy more submarines and ships that can deliver strikes to coastal USA within 4 or 5 minutes of launch. In other words, to create the same 'instant and unstoppable strike' threat to the US that the US government creates to the Russian Federation. 

Autonomous regions of Ukraine

In my view, only Nikolaev and Odessa might in future possibly vote for autonomy. If so, they might as well sign up to a Minsk 2 - style agreement. After all, Minsk 2 was hammered out to suit all parties, and hammered out in not dissimilar circumstances. These agreements would likely be agreed by the United Nations. Although this is hardly essential, it allows the West to save face a little. The only change needed may be to embed de-nazification in the Ukrainian constitution.

In reality, it is far more likely, if conditions for a vote arise, the referendum question will be a simple 'remain with Ukraine or join the Russian Federation?'.

An Autonomous Port City of Odessa?
The Russian President made an obscure remark right at the end of his mammoth session at the Valdai International Discussion Club in October 2022:

"You know, Odessa is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world.As you know, Odessa was founded by Catherine the Great, and I think even the extreme nationalists do not dare to tear down the monument to the city's founder. Odessa can be an apple of discord, a symbol of conflict resolution, and a symbol of finding some kind of solution to everything that is happening now. It is not a question of Russia. We have said many times that we are ready to negotiate, and I recently mentioned this publicly once again speaking in the Kremlin."
Vladimir Putin, 27 October 2022

He was using Homers story of the Trojan war as a very loose allegory. Here is my extremely cut down summary:

In the Greek poet Homer's epic poem (The Iliad), the Trojan War was started by Eris, the goddess of Discord. She was known as an ungracious guest, well known for stirring bad relations between the Gods. In a fit of pique at not being invited to an Olympian God-wedding, she used her powers to throw a golden apple amongst the guests. The inscription on it read “For the Fairest”. Paris, a Trojan prince was picked to decide the winner. Aphrodite, one of the leading candidates, bribed him with the offer of the fairest woman on Earth. Unsurprisingly, Paris picked Aphrodite as the fairest of the assembled Goddesses.

The Greek Helen was acknowledged as the most beautiful woman on earth. Helen's father, King Tyndareus had agreed to chose a husband for Helen from the bevy of suitors on condition that, regardless who he chose, they would all unite and come to the 'chosen ones' aid if he found himself in trouble. King Tyndareus chose King Menelaus. But Aphrodite later caused the already-married Helen to fall for Paris of Troy, who then abducted Helen and brought her to Troy. King Menelaus and the eloquent Odysseus went to the King of Troy (King Priam) in a diplomatic effort to return Helen.

King Priam refused to release Helen. A grinding 9 year war ensued, which spilled over into neighbouring regions. Eventually, the Greeks pretended to yield and give up Troy, leaving behind a huge wooden horse, with Greek soldiers hiding inside. The Trojans dragged it into their defensive positions as a trophy of their success. That night, the soldiers crept out and opened the gates to the Greek military, who had returned under cover of dark. The Greeks wreaked havoc and destruction on Troy. King Menelaus found Helen, but could not bring himself to punish her as she was so beautiful...

The USA is Eris, Troy is Ukraine. Russian Federation Oblasts are the suitors. Odessa is Helen. King Menelaus and Odysseus are the Russian Federation Office of President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. King Priam is Zelensky.

Allegories are open to the interpretation. I interpret the President's remarks to mean he is presenting the classic 'negotiator's choice' between a bad out outcome and an imperfect but acceptable outcome. If the path the US offers (from a safe distance) is followed, grinding conflict is ensured, and all that is achieved is destruction.

The city is beautiful and should not have to endure this fate, a fate engineered by outsiders 7,000 kilometers away.

The city of Odessa could be "a symbol of conflict resolution". How? Well, Russia will have to give many guarantees to 'win the peace'. Odessa is a cosmopolitan port city with good tourist potential, well educated population, a gateway to the Black Sea, wide international contacts. Even if Russia takes the Oblast, Odessa could return to what it has been in the past - an autonomous city within Ukraine.

"In 1794, the city of Odessa was founded by decree of the Empress Catherine the Great. From 1819 to 1858, Odessa was a free port, and then during the twentieth century it was the most important port of trade in the Soviet Union...
During the 19th century, it was the fourth largest city of Imperial Russia, and its historical  architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.
Odessa has 18 universities and higher education centres, with an emphasis on science. As a cultural centre it contains 9 theatres including the world famous opera house, more than 40 museums, 10 art galleries and 11 national cultural institutions.Aside from the tourism and health industries and the port activities, Odessa’s other significant  industry is the oil terminal and related activities."

Self-administered, with a Charter or similar guaranteeing unhindered local administration, neutral, Ukraine with certain rights, Russia with no particular rights, military installations prohibited, security guaranteed by the UN or Ukraine and Russia in concert, that sort of thing.

Independent State

The United States put trade restrictions on the 2 Republics in the years before they merged into the Russian Federation, and you can be sure that any Ukrainian Oblast that goes down the path to independent state will experience the same blockade. However, it may not be much different to what Odessa, for example, is already experiencing. An autonomy scenario is very unlikely for any part of remaining Ukraine (although the nationalist Oblasts of Lviv, Volyn and Rivne in the northwest might conceivably go down this path).

In the extremely unlikely event northwest Oblasts declare themselves an independent federations, or independent states, it would probably be as a stepping stone move to merge with Poland.

The  'Mother of all Treaties'

Russia, I believe, wants a treaty that finally ends the NATO threat. It wants security in Europe for everyone - but not at any given countries expense.

"The thing is that for twenty years, both you, the British, and the Americans, and all other NATO countries were urged to do what all of you subscribed to in 1999: no country shall strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. Why can’t you do that? Why is it that the commitments signed by your prime minister, the presidents and prime ministers of all other OSCE countries proved to be lies?...You moved closer to our borders on five occasions (a defensive alliance!). The Warsaw Treaty and the USSR are no more. Who are you defending yourselves against? Five times you decided all on your own where your lines of defence would be. What’s that? This smacks of megalomania."
Sergey Lavrov 6 June 2022

Security for all Europe is what the two treaties Russia presented in December 2021 were designed to achieve. I have covered them in my article  'Blindsided by Peace?' . If  Ukraine is allowed to join the European Union, Russia's Europe-relevant treaty (the NATO treaty) would then bind Ukraine. If NATO signs it. It may not.

Europe will eventually sign, there is no other sane choice (although this may take a decade or so). But US will never 'allow' it, and therefore NATO will have be dissolved first. Once NATO no longer exists, the way is open for the 2008 Security Treaty to be brought back into the light.
"Back in 2008, Russia put forth an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty under which not a single Euro-Atlantic state or international organisation could strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected right off the bat on the pretext that Russia should not be allowed to put limits on NATO activities."
President Putin, February 21, 2022
This is a possibility for some time in the future. A Russia-Ukraine settlement will have to come now. It will have to include relevant parts of Minsk 2, it will have to include the additional elements I have outlined above.

Breakup of Ukraine

"When at last they [Ukraine] have the grace to suggest resuming the diplomatic process (something, as I understand, the Europeans are insisting they should do, but the Anglo-Saxons do not permit them), we will see what situation has emerged on the ground.
There are liberated areas there. The majority of the population cannot so much as think of returning under the control of the neo-Nazi authorities or the authorities that are in every way conniving at neo-Nazism....
Today I don’t see any possibility for Ukraine to make any proposals, and we are not going to suggest anything either. We have made our proposals long ago. The ball is now in their court. I don’t believe that Kiev will be allowed to resume talks.
Sergey Lavrov 23 June 2022

As discussed, it is not impossible that the 'dark blue' Russian speaking Oblasts might decide to join Russia, for all sorts of reasons - with perhaps a better economic future being the major one. The 'bright green' regions already have an agreement with Poland that gives Poland a high degree of control of those irredeemably white supremicist and pro-Nazi  Oblasts. The Poles are members of the European Union (and NATO) and if the bright greens vote to join Poland, their anti-European prejudices will be Poland's to deal with. Why would Russia care? How far could this go? What other post world war 2 'adjustments would be unravelled? John Helmer makes this observation:

"And what if the war ends in the US and NATO alliance retreat to Lvov; after which the Polish government will notify NATO HQ it is reviving its treaty claim to the Galician territory of the Ukraine; ...Berlin will then inform Brussels it requires the return of the ancient Danzig Corridor and Breslau, Polish territories currently called Gdansk, Wroclaw, and the Ziemie Odzyskane; and the Hungarian government will follow suit with the announcement of the recovery of historical Kárpátalja (Transcarpathia), the Zarkarpatska oblast of the Ukraine?

These were the spoils of the World War II settlement between the US and the Soviet Union in 1945-46. The territorial reversion claims aren’t new. What is new is that the US and the NATO alliance, plus the Galician regime still ruling between Kiev and Lvov, also in Ottawa, have aimed to change the terms of the post-war settlement by continuing the war eastward on to the territory of Russia itself, all the way to regime change in Moscow.

That is what Russia says it is fighting now to defend itself against. As Russian officials have been hinting in recent days, the foreign and defence ministries and the intelligence services are currently discussing in the Kremlin Security Council whether Russia’s long-term security on its western front may be best served by terms of a Ukrainian settlement in which the German, Polish, and Hungarian territorial claims are recognised.
John Helmer The US war in Europe isn't hot enough - dropping the climate bomb on Russia 8 June 2022

Poland wants unpayably large amounts of money in 'reparation' for damage done by Germany in World War 2. If the results of the World War II US - Soviet Union settlement are revised, and Germany wants Gdansk, Wroclaw, and the Ziemie Odzyskane back, then Poland may settle the issue by regarding the territories as payment of war reparations. Poland may then feel emboldened to 'return' Galicia. Perhaps they will hold a referendum. All this seems far-fetched, to be honest.

Whatever happens, Crimea is Russian territory, whether the west recognises it or not. This is the reality.

The demilitarised zone concept

John Helmer goes on to publish a 'demilitarised zone' concept, gleaned from various Russian and outside contacts. Essentially, Russia will push into west Ukraine, and in a very wide arc into the provinces that spawned the white supremacists, then pull back again. As they pull back, mines will be laid, along with movement sensors. The mines will be programmed to self destruct at a certain time or on command. The population in the area will be told to move out down defined corridors (as happened in Syria, when terrorists were allowed to leave the Syrian territories they had infested). The West will have to provide the buses. After that, all infrastructure - everything - will be destroyed by artillery and bombing. The area would remain, like the Korean demilitarised zone, an accidental wildlife sanctuary.

His article is very detailed, with maps of infrastructure etc. It can be found here:

Why would Russia do that? Because regardless of the form of settlement, there will be embittered ideological elements who will be ripe for recruitment into Western-trained sabotage groups. Russia is more than aware of this, and it was commented on at the time of the public Russian Security Council Meeting prior to launch of the special military operation. That meeting mulled over what to do in response to the NATO-proxy intent to solve the civil war by attacking the Donbas, and perhaps even Crimea. Looking ahead to post-conflict conditions, the head of the Russian Interior Ministry commented:

"The point of view of the current and former Kiev authorities is that they were forced to sign the Minsk agreements in a difficult situation back then, because they were driven into a corner, and that the Minsk agreements are akin to an act of capitulation. Well, then, “colleagues,” let us draw a historical parallel and remember May 1945. Supposedly, Germany signed the Act of Surrender and failed to comply with it for seven years citing a variety of circumstances such as getting into pockets in the streets of Berlin and the like. This is an analogy.

So, what can we talk about today when our foreign partners invite us to play a fair game at the negotiating table? We can play a fair game only when we have honest and trustworthy partners at the table. However, when you have partners with marked cards who are trying their best to justify official Kiev’s hypocritical and deceitful position, what is there to discuss then? Who is inviting us to start this dialogue? We are encouraged to do so by our foreign partners who, having presented a vial with white powder, proceeded to bomb Iraq, change the legitimate government, and drown the people in blood. Having done that, they are inviting us to a dialogue."
Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev 21 February 2022

The first point is that even if Kiev signs an Act of Surrender, attacks across the border will continue for year, with the Ukrainian Government claiming it has nothing to do with them.

Second, any security guarantee given by Western governments is utterly worthless, as lying and deceitful behaviour is normal to them.

If words are worthless, all that is left is concrete measures. Russia no doubt observed that Turkey has an extensive and high concrete wall on it's border with Syria. The zone on the Syrian side of the wall contains a zone of Turkiye's proxies, so-called 'rebels', many of whom are Islamist terrorists. It is obvious that the terrorist enclave should rightly be on the Turkish side of the wall. In Mr. Helmer's minefield scenario, the end of the minefield could be a long concrete wall, guarded by all manner of observation means and anti-drone detection devices.

The Russian government has already mentioned that it will have to shoulder additional expenses for the next three years, and the cost of a long wall and protective equipment might form part of that cost.

Terms of surrender and post-war reconciliation ?

"..last September [2022] Vladimir Zelensky passed a decree prohibiting anybody in the Ukrainian government from having any negotiations with the Russian Federation. And the fact that people keep asking us when Russia is going to be 'ready for negotiations' does not do credit to the people who raise this issue - especially in the media.
Sergey Lavrov 14 April 2023

"Kiev’s current authorities should respect this free expression of the people’s will; there is no other way. This is the only way to peace."
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin 30 September 2022

The Russian President's statement was probably partly in response to the Ukrainian President passing a decree making it illegal to negotiate with Russia, which is tantamount to passing a death sentence on Ukrainian soldier, as well as Polish NATO proxies fighting on the Ukrainian side.

The reference to "current authorities" suggests that part of terms for peace will include an inclusive government that bars any party with extreme racist views. Perhaps the Russian President is hinting that the Black Sea oblasts will be asked to vote on whether or not they wish to join the Russian Federation, perhaps not. Based on the survey on use of Russian language (above), it seems fairly likely they will vote to join. 
If a negotiated settlement has been agreed, Russia might contribute something to the EU's aid efforts while  the Ukrainian people transition to a new inclusive government. Possibly it would focus on restoring Ukraines power system, seeing as both countries used the same Soviet designed systems.

According to an interview with Scott Ritter on September 30 2022 with Andrey Gurulyov, member of the State Duma Defense Committee, demilitarisation will require Russia to occupy the remainder of Ukraine. Occupy forces are responsible for the provision of the maintenance of essentials for life - food, water, shelter. Did the Western occupying forces do this in Afghanistan? Most of the aid was from 'foreign donors'. According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 'donors' gave $1.67 billion to Afghanistan in humanitarian aid in 2021. The United States gave $425 million of that. Why would Russia penalise it's own domestic economy by replacing the current Western largesse to Ukraine with Russian largesse? It makes no sense.

It does make sense to give carefully targeted aid to Ukraine so that it can rebuild what is left of it's economy. But with full accountability.
There may be limited, temporary occupation of Ukraine as part of the terms of settlement of a negotiated settlement, but even this is problematic. I doubt Russia has any intention whatever of an occupation of Ukraine beyond Oblasts that might vote to merge with the Russian Federation.

A good paper written by
Christopher Knowles in 2013 lists universal principles for an occupying force to follow to ensure peace and stability returns to the occupied country. While he was discussing post war Germany, after Germany had surrendered, the principles apply anywhere. The summary covers the main points, and nothing much else needs to be said:

In Ukraine's case, EU aid organisations will be in the drivers seat. As far as the new Ukrainian government is concerned - and the Ukrainian people - whatever they give will be "not enough". It is obvious to me that in post-conflict Ukraine blame for the disaster will be placed less with Russia but with the US and EU. The fact that Ukrainians were being used as a disposable tool of the West will become widely known. Ukrainians will -rightly - draw the obvious conclusions.

According to one US so-called 'think'-tank, USA will have to provide Ukraine with aid for years to come. (They include military aid, which is, of course, another delusion.)

"Ukraine cannot continue to fight and to recover without continuing aid from the U.S. and other powers. Moreover, if the war drags on as it well may do, the total costs of both the war and recovery states could easily rise well over $500 billion.

A truly long war could put the total cost of the war and recovery to a trillion dollars or more...while U.S. aid to Ukraine has scarcely been cheap, U.S. spending has been at token levels compared to the economic burden that the cost of the Ukraine war and economic sanctions have placed on Russia....

moving towards a viable peace settlement is critical to both Ukraine’s survival and limiting the cumulative cost of aid....the U.S. should expend its current efforts at cooperation the build [sic] such a planning and management effort and make current wartime flow of civil aid cost-effective as soon as possible.

It should expand current efforts to develop the kind of longer-term post conflict planning that is really needed. Any realistic peace settlement will depend upon the existence of a functional and credible form of Western recovery aid to Ukraine – one where the U.S. will almost certainly have to pay a major share....

...Past experiences warns that this will require an ongoing management effort with demanding controls of corruption and cost-effectiveness, and a postwar planning effort that will link the Ukraine to the EU and the economy of Europe in ways that would allow it to export without the same dependence on naval routes that Russia might challenge or interdict...

...it is critical to remember that the West is also supporting Ukraine by conducting the equivalent of economic warfare against Russia. Economic sanctions, controlling on the levels and technologies involved in trade, and taking measures to limit European dependence on energy exports are all additional ways of cutting the cost of aid to the Ukraine, and pushing Russia into some form of viable peace agreement...

...Creating truly effective international bodies to plan and manage civil and military aid efforts, with representation from a full range of donors, can limit the future flow of aid to some extent, but the U.S. and its allies must face the possible need for years of future support.

...Any other course of action would leave Ukraine far too weak to offer any clear hope of stability and undermine many of the gains the U.S. has made...

...In any case, the U.S. must accept the fact that the cost of U.S. aid will remain high as long as the war continues and during the peace years of Ukraine’s postwar recovery...it must be stressed that the U.S. also cannot push Ukraine too far in making compromises to obtain an end to the fighting or cut aid to the extent that it effectively abandons it."
US 'Center for Strategic and International Studies' 22 November 2022

Those that ruthlessly engineered the destruction of Ukraine - for their own ends - now have a moral duty to rebuild it.

No surrender, a negotiated settlement

The West broke Ukraine, and it is the West's cost to bear. If Ukraine surrenders, then, as the occupying power, Russia would have to provide everything for the civilian population. Therefore, it now seems to me that Russia is unlikely to require Ukraine to surrender. It most certainly does not want to carry the burden of caring for a deeply divided and corrupt Ukraine.

For this reason, while there may be a temporary occupation, the Russian Federation is unlikely to require a surrender, but rather, a negotiated settlement, albeit more or less unilaterally imposed.

This line of thinking arises from remarks made by Russian officials:

 "Nazi leaders assumed that there was no need to storm the city because this made it possible to avoid troop casualties. At the same time, they did not want its people to surrender because surrendering is part of warfare implying that they would have been obliged to care for the civilian population."
Maria Zakharova, Foreign Ministry spokesperson 12 January 2023

"In March of this year, the Ukrainians asked for negotiations. After several rounds on March 29 in Istanbul, they finally gave us something on paper. We agreed with the principles of the settlement contained in that document. Among them was ensuring Ukraine's security through respect for its non-aligned status (that is, its non-accession to NATO), its nuclear-free status (Vladimir Zelensky would no longer be able to declare that abandoning nuclear weapons in 1994 was a mistake); and the provision of collective guarantees not by NATO, but from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany and Turkey. We agreed to that.

In a day or two, the American handlers said to the Ukrainians: “Why are you doing this?” It is clear that the United States expected to wear out the Russian army by using Ukraine as a proxy, as well as have European countries spend the maximum amount of their weapons, so that later, Europe would be buying replacements from Washington, securing revenue for the American military industry and defence corporations.

They said the Ukrainians were too early in expressing their readiness to receive security guarantees from the Russians and reach a settlement on this basis.

They keep accusing Russia of seeking negotiations all the time in order to “buy time to raise and send in reinforcements for the special military operation.” This is both ridiculous and frustrating. These people are blatantly lying.

We have never sought any negotiations, but we have always said that if someone is interested in negotiating a solution, we are ready to listen. The following proves my point – when in March of this year, the Ukrainians made such a request, we not only met them halfway, but were also ready to agree to the principles that they put forward.

The Ukrainian side was not allowed to do this at the time, because the war had not yet brought enough wealth to those who are supervising and directing it – and this is primarily being done by the United States and the British.
Sergey Lavrov 01 December 2022

"President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said many times that we never reject any proposal to achieve diplomatic agreements. The terms on which we agree to discuss them are well known. The fact that four territories belong to the Russian Federation is an indispensable condition for talks. But this is not all that must be discussed....

The second large block of problems, in addition to the destinies of the people who do not want to live under the current regime with its open Nazi and racist views is the security of the Russian Federation that has been subjected to numerous threats created on Ukrainian territory."
Sergey Lavrov 28 December 2022

"Sergey Lavrov again emphasised the possibility of a peaceful solution but only with due regard for the new realities and Russia’s interests and concerns."
Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Türkiye Mevlut Cavusoglu 7 April 2023

Time is on Russia's side. If this is to be permanently settled, then any negotiated agreement must be water-tight. Above all else, the West in any manifestation or proxy must be kept out of Ukraine. Therefore, the two 'blocks' of problems must be negotiated at the same time. Both terms - recognition of the loss of the eastern area and neutrality plus prohibition on the West guaranteeing Ukraine's security - must be met. In the meantime, Ukrainian troops will be expelled from the Russian territories, and Russia will do whatever is necessary to protect Russian people living in Ukraine from harassment, discrimination, torture and murder by the neo-nazi element in Ukrainian society. Obviously, after settlement, the burden of this work - rightly - must be shouldered by the Europeans (who gave silent consent to the rise of far right and nazi ideology in Ukraine in the first place).

"We are in no hurry. President of Russia Vladimir Putin talked about this. We would like to finish, as soon as possible, the war the West was preparing for and eventually unleashed against us through Ukraine.

Our priority is the lives of the soldiers and civilians that remain in the zone of hostilities. We are patient people. We will defend our compatriots, citizens and lands that belonged to Russia for centuries, proceeding from these priorities."
Sergey Lavrov 28 December 2022

What are Russia's Terms for Settlement?

By early April the Ukrainian President had started to prepare the public mind for the prospect of defeat on the battlefield, and the need for a settlement.

The Russian Government, in the meantime, had publicly listed it's broad terms for settlement. All the terms had been mentioned before, but there was one new one. This is fully in line with the long-standing Russian practice that where Russia has the upper hand the first and earliest terms are always the ones with the most concessions to the other side. In the West, this is done the other way around - the best terms are offered at the end of a long and protracted negotiation.

But the negotiations are permeated with the stench of Ukrainian and Western deviousness, duplicity, and deceptiveness. The bad faith verbal promises have not been forgotten. The signatures on agreements which never intended to be adhered to have not been forgotten. The insolent refusal to implement the Security Council resolution has not been forgotten. Therefore Russia will not allow NATO and it's Ukrainian proxy to drag out negotiations as a subterfuge to allow Ukraine time to be re-armed. The consequence is that the Russians will likely continue the war right up until the moment of signature.

There will be no unilateral 'goodwill' gesture on Russia's part. Russia has not forgotten the cost of a goodwill withdrawal early in the conflict.

1.  All anti-Russian sanctions must be lifted.

2. All claims against the Russian government and Russian legal entities and Russian individuals must be withdrawn.

3. All attempts to prosecute Russian government officials, entities and individuals must be terminated.

4. Ukraine’s must respecting the rights of its both its Russian population and other ethnic populations, including the right to speak and read in their own language.

5. Ukraine must restore friendly relations with all neighbours (i.e. Russia and Belarus) by re-opening the borders and re-establishing all the legal frameworks (including all former Soviet States such as Belarus) previously in place before the coup.

6. Ukraine must restore Ukraine's founding principles of neutrality and non-bloc status outlined in the 1990 declaration of independence.

7. Ukraine must de-militarise

8. Ukraine must de-nazify

9. Ukraine must never join NATO.

10. Ukraine must re-affirm its non-nuclear status.

11. Ukraine must never join the EU.

12. The west must pay for the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure destroyed by Ukraine’s military since the launch of the Ukraine government's military attacks on the eastern oblasts under the pretext of fighting secessionists.

13. Ukraine must recognise all new territorial realities - that is, territories Russia has occupied and held referendums which confirm a majority desire to join Russia must be recognised by Ukraine as part of Russia.

Some points may be given up in negotiation, but others, such as territorial recognition, non nuclear status and freedom from foreign military, most certainly won't.

Ukraine - Russia reconciliation is possible but not inevitable

Sadly, Ukraine, with Russia (and Belarus) could once have had a very good future. Ukraine - much like Turkey - had a foot in both camps, and Ukraine could magnify it's economic hand by balancing between east and west. Not much chance of that now. Even so, Russia will try to rebuild relations with Ukraine once the nazi element is dealt with.

"We will not tolerate neo-Nazism on the territory of Ukraine. We are fighting neo-Nazis, rather than the people of Ukraine, and we have nothing against the latter.

This nation is closely related to us, we are intertwined at the level of human destinies, and this concerns millions of families with a multitude of ties, spiritual, cultural and other bonds.

I am convinced that the neo-Nazi government in Kiev will be unable to undermine this genetic code; at the same time, we must also accomplish a lot.

It is necessary to offer specific ideas, involve civil society and facilitate contacts between people in Ukraine and Russia. The Russia-Ukraine-Belarus format existed some time ago, and public organisations and experts met within its framework in Minsk and elsewhere. For obvious reasons, this is not happening today, but we need to think about the future. 

The people of Ukraine will be liberated from neo-Nazi rulers, and they deserve to live in neighbourliness, friendship and prosperity together with fraternal Slavic nations."
Sergey Lavrov 26 November 2022

Time will tell. The West will be more interested in supporting groups of saboteurs to infiltrate Russia and attack infrastructure and people. Russia has had long experience in dealing with this with the Chechen criminal grouping. But that was within Russian borders. It is a lot harder to deal with a constant stream of Western-trained saboteurs from an adjacent, Western-backed country.

Reconciliation may be protracted, and is not necessarily inevitable.

Prosecution of neo nazis

"Today I want to particularly emphasise the significance of the work performed by regional and district courts in recognising incidents of genocide against civilians during the Great Patriotic War.

We continue to collect evidence of the atrocities and crimes committed by the Nazis, and every piece of evidence must be given legal and judicial assessment."
Vladimir Putin, in an address to the 10th National Congress of Judges, 29 November 2022

Russia will pursue those who have committed atrocities without limit of time. Russia has documented the crimes every step of the way. Some criminals self-documented their crimes on social media. But what can be done about the Ukrainian and Western officials who gave support and training to neo nazis?

"European leaders are emboldening the Ukrainian government and encouraging neo-Nazi acts...I operate on the premise that Europe is part of the processes that seek to revive neo-Nazism. It’s hard to draw other conclusions."
Sergey Lavrov 26 November 2022

I doubt anything can be done about officials who supported the neo nazis in the Ukrainian government. The terms of surrender may prohibit members of neo nazi groups from participating in government, but this is probably all that can be done. It is likely to be ineffectual anyway.

As for Europe, the greatest punishment for politicians who would betray the sacrifice of those who helped liberate Europe, those who cynically use neo nazis against Russia, is to have to live in a nightmare they themselves create. Russia, will severely reduced electricity in Ukraine over winter 2022, effectively pushing Ukrainian people into seeking shelter in European countries. All the problems the West was trying to stir up in Russia with it's economic blockade will boomerang (the US excluded, of course). A nightmare of ever-rising popular anger at government, massive logistic problems of accommodation, shortages of energy, shortage of food, clashes of ethnicities in the face of white supremacists, sharply rising criminality, huge monetary cost, massive inflation - the list goes on.

After Ukraine, the Main Problem remains unsolved

The US and West simply used the Ukrainian people as their tool to put pressure on Russia, hoping to break Russia up. But the main problem, the intolerable problem, the problem of security in Europe does not go away, regardless of boundaries.

"It is very clear what the West thinks about the current situation. Ukraine is used as an expendable product. The stake of the West is not to allow a single event to cast doubt on its claims to dominate the world order. It is as simple as that. And everything in the minds of some people is limited to the resumption of talks between Russia and Ukraine.

First, we did have such talks in March 2022. The Ukrainians backtracked because the Americans told them that it was not the right time: “keep fighting.”

Second, it is not going to resolve the situation because it is not about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. It’s about the Western geopolitical struggle for dominance and for the prevention of the creation of a multipolar, polycentric world order.

We have many interesting events and developments ahead of us. Keep watching."
Sergey Lavrov 14 April 2023

"Our Western “colleagues” are fiercely fighting to preserve their domination in world affairs (in the financial, economic, political and security areas). This is exactly what triggered the current situation in relations between the Russian Federation on the one hand and NATO and the EU on the other, as regards the processes in Ukraine....

...Such problems must be resolved not on a momentary basis but on the foundation of long-term agreements that would primarily be multilateral and would consider the security of all states without exception. This is the principle of indivisibility of security where not just one country enhances its security at the expense of the security of other states and will not try to dominate anyone in this area.

This was the essence of the political commitments that the West together with our country, Ukraine and other post-Soviet states solemnly assumed in the OSCE in the early 2000s. But the West has not made a single attempt to fulfil them."
Sergey Lavrov 17 April 2023

It is clear that Russia will prosecute military means against NATO (via it's Ukraine proxy).
It is clear that if Ukraine won't accept terms, then Russia is able and willing to go as far as the Polish border - permanently ending Ukrainian access to the Black sea.
It is clear that Russia will use every circumstantial advantage to push for the end of NATO and removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe.
It is clear Russia will use the defeat of the NATO operation in Ukraine to push for a new Europe security Treaty - or rather, a Eurasian Security Treaty - a treaty that brings in nuclear armed France, United Kingdom, and possibly Israel. It will have to cover anti ballistic missile deployment in Romania, Poland, and potentially in Japan as well, as these upset the strategic balanced mutually assured destruction by nuclear weapons.

The issue of rockets

There is the enduring issue of rockets. As Ukraine (or Poland, or Romania, or Lithuania, of Finland, or Sweden, or Moldova) is 'donated' bigger, faster, and more sophisticated rockets (or builds them) the deployment distance from the Russian, Donetsk and Lughansk borders will have to increase. In reality, it is not about distance, it is about time from launch to arrive at the target. Russia needs time to alert the layers of defense.  So the faster the rockets go, the further back they must be placed to allow that reaction time, if some limited strategic balance is to be kept.

Ukraine (in particular) is the second largest country in Europe, and that raises the issue that rockets may be concealed. If Russia had to create a patrolled 'demilitarised zone', as they have in Syria, then it would have to be so wide that patrolling in the hope of finding hidden rockets would be impractical.

At some point in technical development rockets will be too fast to be deployed anywhere in Ukraine or adjacent countries. The issue is not so much Ukraine - after all, a treaty can be signed prohibiting weapons over a given caliber/reach. The real issue is rockets deployed in Europe. Whether deployed by NATO, a European army, or some British/Polish cobbled together alignment. And as Russia develops rockets faster than mach 20 (which they already have) Russia's rockets (in a reciprocal agreement) may have to be deployed thousands of kilometers away on Russia's East Coast. This is an absurd situation, and an agreement will have to be reached with Europe on limiting the range of rockets by whatever technical means (such as smaller motors and fuel capacities). This will require dialogue and verification.

The forseeable future may be the one outlined above - strong Russian domestic defense networks, immensely powerful punitive strike capabilities within just a few minutes of the aggressor launching its 'surprise' attack. This 'balance of power' between the Western politicians and the Russian Federation is very high risk, but incredible although it may seem to all sane people, it is what the Western politicians want. All safer options have been maliciously and willfully destroyed by the West.

"We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world.

Of course, it is their right to think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can.

So let them calculate the range and speed of our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the maths first and take decisions that create additional serious threats to our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to respond in order to ensure its security in a reliable and unconditional manner.

I have already said this, and I will repeat that we are ready to engage in disarmament talks, but we will not knock on a locked door anymore.

We will wait until our partners are ready and become aware of the need for dialogue on this matter."
Vladimir Putin, February 20, 2019

There are some mutual grievances and differences in approaches to resolving issues but that is no excuse for starting a confrontation like the Cuban Missile Crisis that occurred in the 1960s...If someone wants it, let them have it. I said today what would happen."
Vladimir Putin, February 20, 2019 at a media briefing

Well, the West has destroyed all diplomatic relations with Russia. They have destroyed all treaties that limit the range of rockets in Europe. They have dug themselves into an impressively deep hole. Their diplomacy, when it comes to Russia, is simply incompetent, in the literal sense.

Roadmap to verification

As Scott Ritter points out in his new book 'Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika' we have been here before, we have overcome practical difficulties, and we have achieved arms limitations - to everyone's benefit. We know we can do it because it has been done before.

When Trump arbitrarily pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, it was clear he wanted to cut another 'deal' that dealt with Russia's hypersonics. Biden has walked right to the very edge of the precipice by running with the aggressive NATO plan, organising and inciting the Ukraine conflict, funding and fanning race hatred, continuing the biggest propaganda program in human history, and imposing an economic blockade on Russia of unparalleled malice - designed to cause as much damage to the Russian people as the effects of war.

America has reached the outer limits of it's malignancy. One step further is destruction.

It is being shown to it's place. And that is not at the head of the table.

"Let me assure you, dear friends, that we are objectively assessing our potentialities: our intellectual, territorial, economic and military potential.
I am referring to our current options, our overall potential.
Consolidating this country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries I would like to tell those who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral."
Vladimir Putin 22 October 2020

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