Russia and Ukraine have reportedly drawn up a 15-point peace deal that would bring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops – in return for commitments from Kyiv to become a “neutral” country and accept limits on the size of its army.
The deal would allow Ukraine to keep a standing army, but prevent it from ever joining Nato or hosting foreign military bases, sources familiar with the negotiations told the Financial Times.
A similar 1955 pledge convinced the Soviet Union to end the decade-long occupation of Austria after the Second World War.
Austria declared itself permanently neutral that year, leading to the Soviet Union agreeing to an end to its occupation. It promised not to join any military alliance, such as Nato, and to never host foreign military bases on its soil.
The compromise has the potential to meet one of Vladimir Putin’s key demands: that Ukraine never joins Nato. However, other Russian demands will prove hugely problematic for Kyiv.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were considering a plan involving a constitutional commitment to neutrality, the Kremlin said on a third day of heavy shelling of Ukrainian cities.