Security guarantees to Russia may be a good idea, but only in one case

Tomáš Zdechovský MEP
Moscow, Russia - 2022 February 22: Vladimir Putin on the news. President of Russia speech on TV. Russia and Ukraine war

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Anyone following European politics in recent months could not have missed the extraordinary effort of French President Emmanuel Macron to go down in history as a great statesman and peacemaker. However, his previous attempts to achieve peace in Ukraine have ended not only in failure but, above all, in complete disgrace. 

So far, the French president has given the impression of more of a desperate telephone operator constantly trying to call Putin, who frankly does not take him seriously at all. Recently he stirred the pot with a few days old statements calling it necessary to give security guarantees to Russia, but we will get to that later.

Failure and humiliation

It is worth remembering that the French president already showed his desire to be a peacemaker even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. By the way, even back then, Emmanuel Macron talked about security guarantees to Russia. In the first weeks of February, he announced that he had received a promise from Putin that there would be no “escalation or deterioration” of the conflict between Moscow and the West regarding Ukraine. 

That meant, as he was not shy to confidently declare, that he had fulfilled his goal of preventing further escalation of the situation, and gave room for new prospects. There is, however, no need to recall what followed. In just a few days came brutal sobriety.

Quite predictably, unfortunately, Macron’s other attempts to get Putin to negotiate came to naught. He received a lot of criticism because, as a representative of one of the most influential European countries, he allowed Putin to humiliate him. In this context, Macron’s June statement that the West “should not humiliate Russia” must have ironically sounded very grotesque.

Security guarantees to Russia. Why not?

Even his most recent statement (for now) on possible peace negotiations was not met with a positive response. In an interview with the French TV channel TF1, Macron stated that giving Russia security guarantees will be a prerequire for any future negotiations with Russia on ending the war in Ukraine. “One of the most important points we have to deal with are – as Putin has always said – his fear that NATO will come right to his door, but also the deployment of missiles that could threaten Russia.”

Ukraine itself or countries immediately threatened by Russia did not understandably have a plausible reaction. Their answer probably did not surprise anyone. According to Ukraine and the Baltic countries, Russia should be the one to give security guarantees to Europe after the end of the invasion.

When President Macron says that the West should provide security guarantees to Russia, it would only make sense for us to get inspired by the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, 28 years after its signing on 5th December. At the time, Ukraine promised to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for the three states (USA, Great Britain, and Russia) pledge to respect Ukrainian independence and Ukraine’s borders. 

Moreover, a promise that they refrain from using force against Ukraine, and also abstain from using nuclear weapons against Ukraine. A similar document could be prepared with Russia, also “a memorandum”. After withdrawing from Ukraine, Russia, like Ukraine in 1994, would promise to get rid of all its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from Ukraine and NATO countries. Emmanuel Macron didn’t mean it that way, or did he?

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Tomáš Zdechovský MEP is a Czech politician, crisis manager, and media analyst. He is a member of KDU-CSL (Christian-Democratic Party) and till April 2022 he was a Deputy Leader of the party.