NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has hinted on Sunday during a visit to Finland, that peace comes at a price, and that Ukraine will have to make some territorial concessions to Russia in order to end the current conflict.
Stoltenberg spoke at the Kultaranta Talks in Finland, following a meeting with Finish President Sauli Niinisto. He said that NATO aims to strengthen Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table, but added that any peace deal would involve compromises, including of territory.
While the NATO chief said that the West was willing to “pay a price” to strengthen the Ukrainian military, Kiev will have to make some territorial concessions to Moscow in order to end the current conflict.
“Peace is possible,” he said. “The only question is what price are you willing to pay for peace? How much territory, how much independence, how much sovereignty…are you willing to sacrifice for peace?”
While avoiding a suggestion of terms Ukraine should accept, Stoltenberg said that “it’s for those who are paying the highest price to make that judgment,” while NATO and the West continue supplying arms to the Ukrainians to “strengthen their hand” when a settlement is eventually negotiated.
The secretary general did not directly endorse the ceding of Ukrainian territory, but he did bring up the example of Finland, which gave up Karelia to the Soviet Union as part of a peace deal during the Second World War. Stoltenberg described the Finnish-Soviet settlement as “one of the reasons Finland was able to come out of the Second World War as an independent sovereign nation.”
There is growing sentiment that Ukraine’s Western backers are pressing it to secure a peace deal with Russia. In public US and British officials insist that Ukraine can win its war with Russia, but a recent CNN report suggests that officials in Washington, London and Brussels are meeting without their Ukrainian counterparts in an effort to plan a ceasefire and peace settlement.
The CNN report says that among the plans reportedly discussed by Kiev’s supporters was the framework proposed by Italy in late May, the outlet claimed.
First unveiled by the Italian media, the four-point plan calls for a ceasefire and the demilitarization of the front line in eastern Ukraine, with Ukraine then possibly becoming a neutral state. The third phase would include an agreement between Moscow and Kiev on the status of Crimea and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. It all would be crowned by a multilateral accord on peace and security in Europe, focusing on disarmament and arms control.
The supposed plan has, however, been dismissed by both the Ukrainian and Russian leaderships.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also claimed that unnamed foreign parties have been trying to “push us a little” toward a deal, as the public in countries backing Ukraine grows “war weary.”
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger suggested last month that Ukraine should give up some territory in exchange for an end to hostilities.
Kissinger proposed in May that Ukraine accept a return to the “status quo ante,” meaning it would relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Crimea has been a part of Russia since 2014, while Moscow recognized the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics several days before its military operation began in February.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur