"The government of Ukraine needs to make some significant move in the direction of autonomy and that would then hopefully resolve the entire situation," he said. "I think that there can be some kind of an accommodation that would result in some significant autonomy in that area. I think that would be sufficient for the protection of the Russian-speaking population there. And that's something that the Ukrainian government could live with."
Quigley, Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, maintained that such an agreement could be achieved, but it will depend on Washington's reaction. US President Donald Trump is said to be less inclined to provide assistance to Ukrainian authorities, particularly considering that Kiev has largely failed to carry out reforms in the country. At the same time, Trump appears to be intent on improving relations with Russia.
These comments came in response to fresh clashes erupting in Donbass, specifically near the towns of Avdiivka and neighboring Yasynuvata. The Ukrainian military and Donbass militia have blamed each other for the recent escalation of violence.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said that Russia had "reliable" information which shows that independent groups tried to launch an attack on the territory under control of Donbass republics.
Quigley pointed out that the massive buildup of NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltics has also contributed to tensions in Ukraine.
"I think that this buildup is unnecessary. I don't see what it achieves. I don't think that Russia has a plan of invading any of the areas that NATO troops are now being stationed in. I think it does heighten tensions," he asserted. "Potentially, there might be some kind of negotiations with the new Trump administration whereby this will be pulled back and there could be in connection with that some kind of arrangement for eastern Ukraine to which the government of Ukraine would agree."
"I think at this point NATO is not ready to accept that because that would mean an obligation under Article 5," he said, referring to Ukraine's possible membership. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty stipulates that an attack on one country should be treated as an attack on all NATO members, triggering a collective response.
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