There are signals—hopefully not noises—coming out of the Ukrainian conflict of Russian making. On the one hand there are indications that President Vladimir Putin may be drawing down or taking some heat off his offensives in and around the capital city of Kyiv and a few other major centers. And on the other, there are also indications that the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky is looking for a solution that would include a declaration of neutrality and security guarantees to Russia so that peace can be achieved “without delay”. At the same time Zelensky is insisting on a face-to-face meeting with Putin, something that Moscow is not prepared for until the proper groundwork has been finalized.
Having embarked on a disastrous “Special Operation” that was nothing short of an outright war President Putin needs to walk away with something from the table. If the Russian leader is able to get iron clad Ukrainian neutrality and security guarantees, he can come away even pompously. But Zelensky will face an embarrassing question: if he is willing to give Russia what it has been seeking all along, why not think of this some six week ago thereby saving a disastrous situation for his country? In effect what Kyiv will be insisting is on territorial integrity or the regions of the country that are in effect under Russian control. The trade off is not all that simple but something that the two sides will have to address for “peace”.