A former United Nations assistant secretary general has said that Russia and Ukraine were close to inking a peace deal soon after the invasion of Ukraine, but the United States, NATO, and other Western nations scuttled the deal.
Mr. Schulenburg said there is "little doubt" the peace negotiations failed owing to resistance from NATO, the United States, and the UK. NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance between 31 member states established in 1949 after World War II.
"The reason is that such a peace agreement would have been tantamount to a defeat for NATO, an end to NATO's eastward expansion and thus an end to the dream of a unipolar world dominated by the USA," Mr. Schulenburg claims.
"In contrast to today, President [Volodymyr] Zelensky and his government had made great efforts to negotiate peace with Russia and bring the war to a quick end."
Ukraine in Weaker Position if New Negotiations OpenedMr. Schulenburg believes that even if a new peace deal were to be brokered today, Ukraine's negotiating position would be "far worse than it was" in March of 2022 during the original peace talks. Despite its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia and some territorial gains, Mr. Schulenburg thinks Ukraine will ultimately lose large parts of its territory.
Russia annexed parts of Ukraine's territory in 2014, most notably Crimea, but the full-scale invasion of wider Ukraine on Feb. 24 saw them claim greater than 20 percent of the country. Ukraine has reclaimed some areas, but the ongoing conflict has seen military casualties on both sides skyrocket.
The cause of the war has been debated since the beginning with a wide range of theories. However, Mr. Schulenburg said that "contrary to Western interpretations," which claim Russia's invasion was sparked by other reasons, Ukraine and Russia had actually agreed on the cause of the war. Specifically, Ukraine's potential induction into NATO and the military alliance's expansion so close to Russia's borders.
Mr. Schulenburg says the previous peace negotiations focused on Ukraine being neutral and declining NATO membership. In return, Russia would withdraw, leaving all occupied territories except Crimea.
"The failure of the peace negotiations in March 2022 led to dangerous intensification of the war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially young people, deeply traumatized a young generation and inflicted the most severe mental and physical wounds on them," Mr. Schulenburg said.
Mr. Schulenburg stressed that by blocking peace negotiations, everyone has suffered, including Russia and Europe. Above all though, has been the Ukrainians themselves, who he said "are paying with their blood the price for the ambitions of the major powers and will probably get nothing in return."
"Ukraine has been exposed to enormous destruction, internal displacements, and mass impoverishment. This is accompanied by a large-scale depopulation of the country," Mr. Schulenburg said.
"Not only Russia, but also NATO and the West bear a heavy share of the blame for this disaster."