The current talk is that the shape of a proposed deal would involve Russia keeping Crimea, the territories already controlled by Russian separatist groups backed by Russia, while Ukraine would commit to “neutrality” by not joining NATO.
It’s hard to think of anything more pointless than a war that killed thousands of people being settled by what is essentially the status quo.
Despite assorted posturing on the subject, these were territories that Russia already controlled.
And despite even more posturing, Ukraine was never going to join NATO. It’s too poor, unstable, and doesn’t bring anything to the table except a potential fight with Russia. NATO already has one deeply unstable member that’s liable to switch sides at any time, Turkey, it doesn’t want another one.
There’s no way that NATO would have let Ukraine join. That would deeply undermine the alliance with a member able to elect a hostile government at any time and whose system is pockmarked with corruption. And it would infuriate Russia. And that’s doubly true now after the war.
Ukraine called for NATO membership as a political tactic, much like the no-fly-zone and the assorted other things that were never going to happen. Standard bargaining techniques in certain parts of the world involve throwing out unrealistic offers to score a more reasonable deal.
If the final shape of the deal is Russia keeping territory it effectively had and Ukraine not joining NATO, that’s just the status quo plus thousands of dead bodies and wrecked cities. Everyone will try to put the best possible face on it, but that will just what an incredible waste of human life this war was.