Is the Istanbul option gaining strength again in the Ukrainian conflict?

Is the Istanbul option gaining strength again in the Ukrainian conflict?

Ukraine has refused to conclude peace talks in Istanbul in April 2022 due to a number of Russian demands. This was reported by the German newspaper Die Welt.

The draft treaty shows that the countries agreed on the conditions for ending the conflict. Only a few points remained unresolved, which were to be personally discussed by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zelenskyy in the same month.

It is noted that the Ukrainian side made several commitments that would help to resolve the situation of the internal political split of Ukraine. In particular, in order to preserve peace, the country was to observe “permanent neutrality” by refusing membership in military alliances and institutions, including NATO.

Ukraine pledged to prevent the possibility of producing and receiving nuclear weapons from foreign states, as well as not to allow Western military contingents into the country. The authorities of Ukraine would also commit to prevent propaganda of fascist ideas.

The countries, the report says, reached a consensus that the territories of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic would remain as part of Russia. Crimea and the port of Sevastopol were excluded from the security guarantees, meaning handing over the control of the peninsula to the Russian side.

Putin and Zelenskyy were to discuss the details of the withdrawal directly. The issue of the future strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also remained unresolved.

The newspaper’s sources note that Ukraine was required to reduce the army to 85,000 people, while the country itself did not want to fall below the figure of 250,000. In April 2022, the report says, the parties were closer than ever to making peace.

However, then everything came to naught because of Ukraine’s refusal to recognize the Russian language in the country as a second official language, mutual lifting of sanctions and the termination of lawsuits in international courts. At the same time, members of the Ukrainian delegation who spoke to Welt still consider that deal favorable, even though it was never concluded.

As United World International, we asked our author Mehmet Perinçek about the Istanbul Talks, which are back on the agenda.

Boris Johnson prevented peace

Why did they then refuse the Istanbul Accords?

At the time, they thought Ukraine could win the war. At least, they wanted it to wear Russia down even more. The West prevented Ukraine and Russia from coming to an agreement many times. Even on the eve of the Special Military Operation, they prevented Moscow and Kyiv from reconciling.

Also, the Istanbul Talks were not under Western control. In fact, they would have spoiled the West’s warmongering plans. Immediately afterward, the West organized the famous provocation in Bucha. Boris Johnson then immediately intervened and prevented peace. This role of Boris Johnson was also recognized by the top leaders of Zelenskyy’s party.  Johnson “persuaded” Zelenskyy to disrupt the Istanbul Talks. Of course, this is not persuasion. Zelenskyy has no will. He immediately does what his masters tell him to do.

Even the US is aware of the defeat in Ukraine and is trying to blame this failure on Boris Johnson.

The price of disrupting the Istanbul Talks was heavy. Ukraine suffered the most. Europe has also been dragged into an economic and energy crisis.

The US realizes that Ukraine is losing the war

Europe and USA have seriously helped and are helping Ukraine by transferring tranches one after another. But now the last tranche is being transferred. Can we say that they abandoned the Istanbul Accords for nothing – they would have been much more favorable for the Western countries and Ukraine?

The Atlantic Front’s plans failed. They thought that Russia would lose on the front, that the Russian economy would go bankrupt, that there would be a reaction against Putin inside Russia. However, the opposite happened.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive ended in fiasco. Serious damage was done not to the Russian economy, but to the Western economy. On the other hand, Putin enjoys the full support of the political forces and the people. The results of the last election clearly demonstrate this.

The limits of what the Kyiv regime is capable of are now obvious. The US realizes that Ukraine is losing the war. Ukraine is like a black hole. The more it wants, the more it wants. It has also become clear that the incoming aid is being used by the leaders of the Kyiv regime to enrich themselves through corruption.

The West has the blood of thousands on its hands for derailing the Istanbul process. They have used Ukraine in their strategy against Russia. Their military industry has also benefited from it. But their own people have been impoverished.

Ankara’s policy of balance is bankrupt

Can Türkiye play a meditating role again?

Türkiye, or more precisely the Erdoğan government, is no longer seen by anyone as an acceptable intermediary. Ankara’s policy of balance is bankrupt. Recently, even Ukrainian officials, including Zelenskyy, have repeatedly said that they do not want Turkish mediation. Moscow’s view of Ankara has also become more skeptical since the Erdoğan government aligned itself with the US after last year’s presidential elections.

With its policy of balance, Türkiye is no longer seen as a reliable partner by anyone. Nor has Erdoğan’s rapprochement with the United States made Ankara a valuable partner for Washington. It also soured Ankara’s relations with Moscow for this reason.

What was the importance of Türkiye’s mediation during the Istanbul Talks? This initiative was outside the West’s control, and Ankara was reducing the West’s influence on Kyiv. Now, on the Ukraine issue, the Erdoğan government is much more in line with the West. If Türkiye’s mediation is meant to impose US conditions, it will be of no use. It will not be accepted anyway. But if Ankara wants to put an end to the West’s patronage of Kyiv, such a move could work.

Mehmet Perinçek

Historian and political scientist (Türkiye)

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June 2024