Zelensky Rejected German Security Proposal Before Russian Invasion

Berlin’s plan called for Ukraine to renounce NATO membership and agree to neutrality

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected a proposal from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just days before the Russian invasion. The February 19 offer called on Kyiv to renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality.

At the time, Zelensky rejected the security plan saying Russian President Vladimir Putin could not be trusted to uphold the agreement. Under Berlin’s plan, Putin and American President Joe Biden would sign the deal and jointly guarantee Ukraine’s security.

The Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the proposal, said that Zelensky rejecting the offer "left German officials worried that the chances of peace were fading."

The day after the meeting, French President Emmanual Marcon appealed to Biden in a call between world leaders to make another push for diplomacy. "I think the last person who could still do something is you, Joe. Are you ready to meet Putin?" Macron said to Biden. However, Washington appeared uninterested in a push for diplomacy.

While the full details of the German offer are unknown, it appears similar to proposals Zelensky has outlined in recent weeks. Ukraine’s top negotiator David Arakhamia said Russia had "verbally" agreed to several of Kyiv’s positions. On Sunday, Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the two sides are not close enough to an agreement for a meeting between Putin and Zelensky. “The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top,” the Russian chief negotiator said.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.