Russia is open to peace – under these conditions

Dimitri Medvedev makes people sit up and take notice: on his Telegram channel he announced what he thought was an offer of peace to the West and Ukraine. Chancellor Scholz meanwhile warned against a cold peace.

The proposal that Dmitry Medvedev outlined on his Telegram channel on Thursday comes as a surprise. Accordingly, Russia would be ready for a lasting peace – but only on the condition that the neighboring country is divided and Russia absorbs a significant piece.

Medvedev is not just anyone. The deputy head of the Russian Security Council is considered a long-time confidant of the autocrat Vladimir Putin. From 2008 to 2012, he took Putin’s place in the presidency, only to pave the way for subsequent terms for Putin. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, he has made a name for himself as a radical pro-war advocate.

On Thursday, Medvedev outlined three possible scenarios for the outcome of the war. In his preferred variant, western regions of Ukraine would be ceded to several EU countries and eastern regions to Russia, while residents of the central areas voted to join Russia. With this outcome, “the conflict will end with sufficient guarantees that it will not resume in the long term,” Medvedev wrote in the online service Telegram. Moreover, the proposal implies a neutral status for Ukraine.

Playing with the Fear of the Nuclear Option

If, on the other hand, part of Ukraine joins the EU or NATO, according to Medvedev, renewed hostilities can be expected, “with the risk that it could quickly turn into a full-fledged Third World War.”

A third scenario, which Medvedev calls “temporarily” acceptable to Moscow, would see Ukraine completely partitioned between EU countries and Russia, while a Ukrainian government-in-exile would be formed in Europe. Variants other than these three are not realistic, Medvedev claimed in the Telegram post.

It is doubtful that Ukraine or its partners will listen to Russia’s proposal. All peace offers involving the loss of Ukrainian territory are firmly rejected by Ukraine itself and its allies. “One way or another, Ukraine will cease to exist as a state,” Medvedev is sure.

Scholz: No cold peace along the front

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has meanwhile warned Russia not to rely on freezing the war against Ukraine along the territory it has conquered so far. “Russia must understand that it cannot be about making a kind of cold peace, for example by turning the existing front line into the new ‘border’ between Russia and Ukraine. That would only legitimize Putin’s robbery,” he told the “Kölner City Gazette” (Friday). “It’s more about a fair peace, and the prerequisite for this is the withdrawal of Russian troops.”

The Chancellor left open the question of whether this also applies to the Crimean Peninsula, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014. He merely reiterated his statement: “The withdrawal of troops. It’s not up to us to formulate what agreements Ukraine wants to make on its behalf.” Scholz used the more vague phrase “withdrawal of troops” rather than “withdrawal of troops,” which could mean: all troops.

Scholz also dodged the question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin should be overthrown. “I don’t believe in such speculative questions. Ultimately, there will have to be an agreement between the governments in Moscow and Kiev,” said the Chancellor. It has been some time since his last phone call with the Kremlin chief. “But I intend to speak to Putin again in due course.”