Here were Russia's demands for months starting in early December 2021:
- Article 1: the parties should not strengthen their security at the expense of Russia's security;
- Article 2: the parties will use multilateral consultations and the NATO-Russia Council to address points of conflict;
- Article 3: the parties reaffirm that they do not consider each other as adversaries and maintain a dialogue;
- Article 4: the parties shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other states in Europe in addition to any forces that were deployed as of May 27, 1997;
- Article 5: the parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles adjacent to the other parties;
- Article 6: all member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States;
- Article 7: the parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia; and
- Article 8: the agreement shall not be interpreted as affecting the primary responsibility of the Security Council of the United Nations for maintaining international peace and security.
These were perfectly reasonable, just what the U.S. demanded when Soviet missiles were in Cuba, just what the U.S. would demand now if Russian missiles were in Canada, and ought to have simply been met, or at the very least treated as serious points to be respectfully considered.
If we set aside items 1-3 and 8 above as less concrete and/or hopeless, we're left with items 4-7 above.
These are Russia's new demands now, according to Reuters (there are also four):
1) Ukraine cease military action
2) Ukraine change its constitution to enshrine neutrality
3) Ukraine acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory
4) Ukraine recognize the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent states
The first two of the old four demands (items 4-5 at top) have vanished. No limitations are now being demanded on piling up weapons everywhere. Weapons companies and governments that work for them should be pleased. But unless we get back to disarmament, the long-term prospects for humanity are grim.
The last two of the old four demands (items 6-7 at top) are still here in a different form, at least as regards Ukraine. NATO could add dozens of other countries, but not a neutral Ukraine. Of course, NATO and everyone else have always wanted a neutral Ukraine, so this shouldn't be such a huge hurdle.
Two new demands have been added: recognize that Crimea is Russian, and recognize Donetsk and Lugansk (with what borders isn't clear) as independent states. Of course they were already supposed to have self-governance under Minsk 2, but Ukraine did not comply.
Of course, it is a horrible precedent to meet the demands of a warmaker. On the other hand "horrible precedent" is hardly even the right phrase for the nuclear elimination of life on Earth or even the escalation of a war that miraculously avoids nuclear attacks, or even the climate and ecological demise of life on Earth facilitated by the focus of resources on war.
One way to negotiate peace would be for Ukraine to offer to meet all of Russia's demands and, ideally, more, while making demands of its own for reparations and disarmament. If the war goes on and ends someday with a Ukrainian government and a human species still around, such negotiations will have to happen. Why not now?