Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected a proposal from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz just days before the Russian invasion. The February 19 offer called on Kyiv to renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality.
At the time, Zelensky rejected the security plan saying Russian President Vladimir Putin could not be trusted to uphold the agreement. Under Berlin’s plan, Putin and American President Joe Biden would sign the deal and jointly guarantee Ukraine’s security.
The Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the proposal, said that Zelensky rejecting the offer "left German officials worried that the chances of peace were fading."
The day after the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron appealed to Biden in a call between world leaders to make another push for diplomacy.
"I think the last person who could still do something is you, Joe. Are you ready to meet Putin?" Macron said to Biden. However, Washington appeared uninterested in a push for diplomacy.
Here's how The Wall Street Journal relates Macron's last ditch efforts to keep both sides talking:
Mr. Macron spent the night of Feb. 20 alternately on the phone with Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden.
The Frenchman was still talking with Mr. Putin at 3 a.m. Moscow time, negotiating the wording of a press release announcing the plan for a U.S.-Russian summit. But the next day, Mr. Putin called Mr. Macron back. The summit was off.
Mr. Putin said he had decided to recognize the independence of separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine. He said fascists had seized power in Kyiv, while NATO hadn’t responded to his security concerns and was planning to deploy nuclear missiles in Ukraine.
While the full details of the German offer are unknown, it appears similar to proposals Zelensky has outlined in recent weeks. Ukraine’s top negotiator David Arakhamia said Russia had "verbally" agreed to several of Kyiv’s positions.
Why would they want him to publicly pretend NATO membership is an option but say not a chance behind closed doors. This is what literally caused the invasion. pic.twitter.com/LVJvHty398— Grimmstyle (@Grimmstyle1) March 21, 2022
On Sunday, Russia’s top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the two sides are not close enough to an agreement for a meeting between Putin and Zelensky. "The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top," the Russian chief negotiator said.