Whether Turkey’s mediation in the Russian-Ukraine war will result in a compromise remains to be seen. What is apparent from the information being released is Putin’s demand that Ukraine pledges not to seek membership of NATO, and agrees to become a demilitarized zone and to “denazify” the country, whatever the latter means. Effectively, the Russian demands are tantamount to reducing Ukraine to a client state of Russia, something President Zelensky, given his proclaimed support for Ukrainian independence and democracy, cannot accept. There has to be a limit to how many concessions the Ukrainians are prepared to make to end the war. Accepting the Crimea is now part of the Russian Republic and those territories in the east of the Ukraine, that are effectively now under Russian control, may be a price worth paying to secure peace, but to sign up to the emasculation of a free, democratic state is too much to expect. Rather than insisting on the so-called “denazification” of the Ukraine, perhaps President Putin should look at his own behavior to see if this program of expunging extremist views and policies should begin with his regime.
The Russian army is struggling to secure its objectives; Ukrainian resistance is proving more formidable than anticipated, and with more sophisticated weaponry coming into the country, the war is likely to drag on, resulting in a stalemate. While Putin, cynically, engages in peace talks while carrying on with bombing civilian targets, it is not in Ukraine’s interest to give up the fight; this is precisely the moment to carry on inflicting damage on the Russian invaders. The longer the war goes on, the more likely the Ukrainians will be to secure an honorable peace settlement; the reverse, of course, is true for the Putin regime.
There is still the possibility of a sizable minority of Russians, who do not swallow the Kremlin’s propaganda, to act. Putin cannot regard himself as inviolable. Yes, he has powerful allies but dissent is growing, and those who have supported him, and become rich and influential as a consequence, may see their future in a Russia without Putin.