Vladimir Zelensky should have given a high degree of autonomy to the DPR and LPR or promised to abandon the aspiration to NATO, then the conflict in Ukraine could have been avoided, ex-Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe said
Fighting in Ukraine could have been to avoid if the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to abandon the aspiration to join NATO or grant a special status to the republics of Donbass, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview with The Economist.
“[An escalation of the conflict could have been avoided] if Zelensky could be forced to promise that his country would not join NATO or be forced to grant a high degree of autonomy to two enclaves in the east. I understand that it would be difficult to do— perhaps the American leader could do it. But, of course, [Zelensky] would have refused, — Abe believes.
Touching upon the issue of the Kuril Islands, the former Japanese prime minister expressed the opinion that Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the few who supported the conclusion of a peace treaty on the Kuril Islands. “But, unfortunately, <…> even he can't decide everything,»— Abe said, noting that Putin “is not the kind of person who pursues ideals or makes sacrifices for the sake of ideas.”
When announcing the start of the military operation in Ukraine on February 24, Putin called its goal “the protection of people who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.” Three days earlier, he signed decrees recognizing the independence of the republics of Donbass, explaining this by the need to avoid bloodshed in the region. According to Putin, Kyiv did not want to comply with the terms of the Minsk agreements, including a ceasefire, the provision by Kyiv of a special status to certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and the holding of local elections.
Both Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly declared violations of the Minsk agreements. In Ukraine, they refused to conduct a dialogue with the Donbass republics directly, and the terms of the agreement were called unsatisfactory for Kyiv. Vice Prime Minister— Minister for Reintegration of Uncontrolled Territories of Ukraine Irina Vereshchuk said that Kyiv would organize the referendum provided for by the Minsk agreements only if there were no other ways to resolve the conflict.
At the moment, the negotiation process to resolve the conflict in Ukraine has been suspended, Moscow blames Kyiv for this. In turn, adviser to the head of the presidential office of Ukraine, Mikhail Podolyak, had previously stated that Kyiv would agree to resume peace talks with Russia when Russian troops left the country. Before that, at the end of March, the head of the Russian delegation, presidential adviser Vladimir Medinsky, said that Kyiv had agreed to declare Ukraine a neutral country and stop trying to return Crimea and Donbas by military means.
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Ukraine's non-participation in NATO was one of the points of the draft agreements on Russia's security guarantees, which the Foreign Ministry handed over to the United States and the alliance in mid-December. During several rounds of negotiations on this issue later in January, the parties failed to reach a consensus. At the same time, in early April, Zelensky complained that NATO was not going to accept Ukraine into the bloc.
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