Constructive ambiguity over Ukraine’s neutrality could help end the war

As a condition for ending its unprovoked war against Ukraine, Russia wants Ukraine to become neutral and stay out of NATO. Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has also acknowledged that Ukraine is unlikely to become a NATO member, instead emphasising the importance of a possible EU membership, for which Ukraine applied on 28 February.

When Russia talks about Ukraine’s neutrality, the examples of Finland and Sweden come up. During the Cold War, the USSR influenced Finland’s internal politics significantly. Finland’s cooperation with Western Europe and North America was also heavily constrained by the 1948 Finno-Soviet Treaty and the ever-present threat of Soviet aggression. Thus, Finland managed to associate itself with EFTA and the EEC in 1961 and 1973, respectively, but it had to wait until the USSR’s collapse before joining the EU as a full member.

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