Ukraine has indicated that any compromise in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, such as declaring neutrality, must be put to a referendum after Russian troops withdraw.

[Ukrainian president] Zelenskyy has said any compromises on Donbas or agreement on neutrality must be put to a referendum of Ukrainian voters after Russian troops withdraw, while Moscow wants them sealed in a deal immediately.

Suppose Russia agrees to this and withdraws its troops while Ukraine hosts a referendum, but the referendum fails. Obviously Russia will not be happy. Has Ukraine explained what their proposed solution would be in this scenario?

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    The linked article says that the video of the interview remains unpublished. So this is a pure speculation. In fact, all content of the interview is currently nothing but a speculation.
    – wrod
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 16:45
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    I doubt they'd outright say it, but they'd presumably expect to be re-invaded, which means the Russians would be starting over again from scratch (in terms of occupied territory). So even if the referendum fails, the Ukrainians come out ahead of where they would be without the withdrawal.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 17:40
  • It's hard to say if a withdrawal is a negotiating point or not. Not all opening positions in negotiations are expected to be acted on. For example, it's common to say "rebels must lay down arms before negotiation". Doesn't stop negotiation, it's just a starting point for one side. Similarly, "withdraw first, then referendum" sounds principled, from Ukraine side. On the other hand, a referendum in Russian-controlled areas would be hard to consider fair. By the time it gets to the point where they have a hard concession to haggle on by referendum things will be much clearer than now. Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 23:55
  • I guess this is a long way to say that I can't see Russia withdrawing just to suit Ukraine so things will have to evolve considerably before this question can be answered. Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 23:56
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica things will have to evolve considerably before this question can be answered presumably Ukraine must have planned for this before making the proposal, or at least Russia would ask about it (if I were a Russian negotiator it's one of the first things I'd think about), so an answer might already be available.
    – Allure
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


Simple, it will not.

The condition of the referendum prevents including items into the peace agreement with that most of Ukrainian citizens would very likely disagree. It is the pressure on Russia not to push on something like that too hard. Also the message that the Ukrainian President aims to represent the will of citizens who have democratically elected him. Not a puppet of USA that could be later claimed acting against the will of the nation.

If the referendum fails, that's it: the war will continue. But, as a result of this threat, the agreement will be such that the referendum most likely should pass. Or no agreement at all.

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