This article that was written a few weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine suggests that Emmanuel Macron did not rule out the idea of Ukraine's neutrality following Finland as a model:
During the tense negotiations over the Ukraine crisis, the idea of “Finlandizing” Ukraine has been suggested as a solution. This idea refers to the way a small or weak country can retain its sovereignty by making some policy decisions – generally defence and foreign – subject to considerable influence by a more powerful neighbour.
The idea surfaced when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, was reportedly asked by a reporter in Moscow recently whether Finlandization would work for Ukraine. He replied: “Yes, it is one of the options on the table.” He has since denied the report.
I have managed to find the following somewhat relevant events related to Ukraine's status in relation to NATO and Russia:
- NATO welcomes Georgia's and Ukraine's aspirations for membership
- Russia threatens with military action to prevent these countries' aspiration to become NATO members
- Russia and Ukraine tried to have an agreement at the end of December, but failed to work
This 2015 lecture suggests that some sort of neutrality of Ukraine could have been / can be negotiated between the Ukraine, Russia and the EU, proposing the following (it is a slide from the lecture):
- Explicitly abandon NATO Expansion into Ukraine
- Fashion an Economic Rescue Plan for Ukraine with Russia, the IMF and the EU
- Guarantee Minority Rights, especially language rights, in Ukraine
Were there any negotiations or high-level discussions around such a proposal for Ukraine?