The U.S. and its Western partners could offer Russia a guarantee of Ukraine’s neutrality in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian troops from its border. One of the results of such negotiations could be international recognition of Crimea as a part of the Russian Federation. This opinion was expressed in an article for the National Interest by political scientist Steven Szabo.
In his opinion, the situation resembles how the US and the USSR agreed on the neutral status of Austria after World War II. The expert noted that tensions around Ukraine could be resolved in a similar way.
In particular, the U.S. and Western countries could offer the Russian leadership a bilateral recognition of Ukraine’s neutrality.
In addition, the agreement could also address the issue of the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems and NATO troops in Europe. According to Szabo, such negotiations could eventually lead to a change in Ukraine’s borders recognized in the West.
For example, a treaty between Russia and the West could result in the Donbass, which is already “almost lost to Ukraine, being integrated into Russia as part of the deal,” and the United States and its partners recognizing Crimea.
“Then Ukraine could focus on building its own political and economic system, as West Germany did without East Germany,” the political scientist stressed.
Szabo believes that the West’s promise at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest to accept Ukraine into the alliance was “a major strategic mistake” that President George W. Bush’s administration pushed through despite German and French resistance.
The expert stressed that even if Ukraine wanted to become a member of NATO and the European Union, there was no reason why it should be acceptable and in the interests of the USA or the EU.
He concluded by noting that it is not in Ukraine’s or the West’s interest to maintain the current strategic uncertainty at the moment. The United States and its NATO allies will not want to go to war over Kiev. Given Washington’s recent experience in Afghanistan, it does not need another “unstable and corrupt government” as an ally.