- Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
On February 24, 2022 Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine, aiming to liberate the Donbass region where the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had been living under regular attacks from Kiev's forces.

Split Alliance: NATO States Reportedly Can't Agree on Approach Towards Putin, Ending Ukraine Crisis

NATO flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.03.2022
While Western countries have condemned the Russian special operation in Ukraine, their rhetoric and responses have differed, ranging from calls for an immediate ceasefire and negotiations, to apparent (albeit later denied) calls for "regime change" in Moscow.
Despite demonstrating a united front in public, behind the curtains NATO is divided on the matter of Ukraine, Bloomberg has reported, citing accounts of anonymous sources allegedly familiar with discussions of member-states, as well as obtained documents. Members of the alliance are divided on a number of issues, but most critically on whether or not they should continue talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin and try to negotiate peace in Ukraine with him, the news agency reported.
The alliance is reportedly split into two groups on this matter. One of the two, represented by France and Germany, believes that the dialogue must continue and a ceasefire agreement be reached between Russia and Ukraine, Bloomberg's sources say. The other thinks that Putin can't be trusted and thus talks shouldn’t be held with him, the news agency's sources add. The two groups' diverging positions have been seen at various points in the official rhetoric, Bloomberg pointed out.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for the NATO-Russia Founding Act to be kept in force – according to Bloomberg's sources, scrapping it would lift mutually binding commitments on troop deployments. One source said that Berlin believes the act might still be useful, while another points at the fact that nixing it wouldn't stop the Russian operation, but the act would be helpful in dealing with Russia later.
"The highest priority for now is to be able to reach a cease-fire so that the killing can stop", Scholz's spokesman said of Berlin's position on Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in turn, challenged remarks made by US President Joe Biden, who seemingly called for ousting Putin during his speech in Poland last week. "We shouldn’t escalate, with words or actions", Macron said, commenting on POTUS' statements.
However, the camp of countries that oppose dealing with or talking to Putin, is bigger, Bloomberg’s sources claim. It reportedly includes the UK and a number of Central and Eastern European nations, with the exception of Hungary, which is trying to stay neutral in the ongoing conflict and defend its own interests.
This second group of countries is sceptical that Putin is willing to sign a peace deal, Bloomberg said, citing obtained documents. According to them, Polish President Andrzej Duda has actively questioned the possibility of reaching an agreement with Russia that would be acceptable to Ukraine. He also reportedly pushed the idea that whoever supports Moscow's conditions effectively "backs Russia".
Bloomberg also cited an Eastern European diplomat as claiming that anyone pushing for a peace deal that doesn't involve the withdrawal of Russian troops "serves Putin" and only seeks to benefit "their campaigns" domestically.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reportedly also sceptical of any agreement with Vladimir Putin, the news outlet's sources said. Several other European diplomats expressed fears that Macron might push Zelensky into accepting a ceasefire agreement with Russia in exchange for Ukraine adopting a neutral status, even though the Ukrainian president has himself insisted that Kiev is ready for such a compromise.
NATO allies reportedly can't agree on other matters related to Ukraine either, for example what ceasefire conditions should be deemed as acceptable and what security guarantees Western countries should be ready to provide, if the final agreement includes a provision for security guarantees by third-party states. The written proposals that the Ukrainian delegation handed to the Russian one during the 29 March talks in Istanbul proposed inviting a number of countries, including permanent members of the UN Security Council, to become guarantor states for Ukraine's future security in exchange for its refusal to join military alliances and host foreign troops.
Another source of disagreement within the alliance is weapons shipments to Ukraine, Bloomberg's sources said. While some countries call for deliveries of more powerful weapons, others are cautious of escalating tensions with Russia. Moscow has previously warned the West against supplying Kiev with air defence systems and fighter jets.
Russia launched the special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, citing a request from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR). President Vladimir Putin described the operation's goals as the demilitarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine.
Despite continued fighting in Ukraine, diplomats of the two countries have already started negotiations to end the hostilities. So far, they have only managed to negotiate the establishment of humanitarian corridors. However, on 29 March the Ukrainian delegation delivered its first "clearly articulated position" on a possible future ceasefire agreement to Russian negotiators during the latest round of talks that took place in Istanbul, Turkey. Moscow promised to review them and deliver a counter-proposal.
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