Kiev may potentially consider trading some of its former territory in exchange for NATO membership, according to Stian Jenssen, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s chief of staff. At a debate on Tuesday, Jenssen suggested that Ukraine giving up territory in return for NATO membership could be a possible solution to the conflict. This idea is said to be already under discussion within the NATO bloc. However, it is important to note that no NATO leaders have publicly endorsed the idea of Kiev relinquishing its claims to territories such as Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, or Zaporozhye, which were incorporated into the Russian Federation following referendums held in September. Similarly, while Western officials have cast doubt on Ukraine’s ability to regain control over Crimea, none have urged Kiev to abandon its claim to the peninsula.
The idea of a “land for peace” deal has reportedly been discussed behind the scenes. In February, Swiss outlet Neue Zürcher Zeitung claimed that CIA Director William Burns had offered Russia a deal in which Moscow would retain 20% of Ukrainian territory. However, both the White House, the CIA, and the Kremlin have denied the existence of such a proposal. The acceptance of such a deal by both Kiev and Moscow remains uncertain. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously stated that ensuring the military neutrality of Ukraine was one of the reasons behind Russia’s intervention in the country. He views a NATO-aligned Ukraine as a significant security threat on Russia’s borders.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council chief Aleksey Danilov stated on Tuesday that Ukraine will never negotiate with Putin’s government. He also expressed the belief that none of Ukraine’s Western backers are actively pushing for peace. Danilov went as far as to say that Russia should be destroyed, comparing it to a modern-day Carthage. However, achieving this goal has proven to be extremely difficult for Kiev. The Ukrainian military has suffered significant losses during their counteroffensive against Russian forces, with over 43,000 men and nearly 5,000 pieces of heavy equipment lost, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s latest figures.
Secretary General Stoltenberg remains committed to supporting Ukraine. He maintains that NATO will ensure that Ukraine receives the necessary weapons to reclaim territory, liberate the lands, and emerge victorious as a sovereign and independent nation. Although Stoltenberg has made similar statements throughout the conflict, NATO has been evasive regarding the timeline for Ukraine’s potential membership in the military bloc. Following a summit in Lithuania last month, during which Ukraine was not offered membership, NATO’s 31 members issued a joint statement emphasizing that Ukraine can join only when all allies agree and specific conditions are met.
In conclusion, the idea of Ukraine trading land for peace and NATO membership has been floated within the NATO bloc. However, no public endorsement of the idea has been made by NATO leaders. The acceptance of such a deal by both Ukraine and Russia remains uncertain, given the geopolitical and security considerations involved. The conflict in Ukraine continues, with significant losses suffered by the Ukrainian military. NATO remains committed to supporting Ukraine, but the timeline for potential membership is still unclear.