A senior Kremlin official indicated on Saturday that Russia may agree to end the war in Ukraine if a key condition is met.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated during a press conference at the UN General Assembly that Russia would recognize Ukraine's borders before invading Moscow if Kiev pledged not to join a military alliance.
Lavrov told reporters that Moscow in 1991 "recognized Ukraine's sovereignty on the basis of the declaration of independence it adopted upon leaving the Soviet Union."
"One of the main points for us is that Ukraine will be a non-aligned country and will not enter into any military alliances. Under these circumstances, we support the territorial integrity of this state."
Mark Katz, a professor of politics and governance at George Mason University, said that "Ukraine's declaration of state sovereignty in 1990 already advocates that Ukraine is a permanently neutral country that does not participate in military alliances."
Lavrov's statement implies that Moscow will recognize Ukraine's borders in 1990 if Ukraine gives up its NATO membership.
"Lavrov's statement implies that Moscow will recognize Ukraine's borders in 1990 if Kiev abandons its plans for NATO membership," he said.
Katz said that while Crimea was a province of the Ukrainian SSR in 1990, he had a feeling that "Lavrov's statement may not be final, and that there may be further clarification about it."
David Selby, a professor of history at Cornell University, told the magazine that he found Lavrov's statement and the way he relates to Crimea "ambiguous," which is interesting in itself.
"It would have been easy for Lavrov to clarify the distinction, but he did not, and he would not have done something like this without Putin's permission. Both should know that this would immediately raise questions about Crimea."