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March 16, 2022 11:03 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says Ukraine and Russia are now discussing “concrete formulations, that are close to agreement.” He says that potential agreement is on the basis of a Ukrainian proposal of neutrality on the model on Sweden or Austria, in which Ukraine forswears NATO membership but has its own military and independent foreign policy and is free to seek EU membership and whatever other ties with other countries it wants. This seems in line with what I mentioned yesterday that President Zelensky appears to have been telegraphing. He’s made a series of statements in recent days saying he’s soured on NATO, that NATO’s never going to accept Ukraine, etc. That may be true as a prognostication and I’m sure he’s not happy about it. But the logic of saying it seems aimed at softening the ground for including non-membership as part of a peace settlement. Take it off the table yourself, accept it through your own agency rather than as a diktat. This part about Zelensky is my interpretation. But I’m pretty confident this is correct. I also suspect these negotiations may be much closer to fruition than people are thinking.

A few other points.

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