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The time to negotiate peace in Ukraine is rapidly running out

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The most sensible case so far: Ukraine needs peace, security and economic recovery, but none of this can be achieved by prolonging the conflict, and the time to reach a balanced agreement through negotiations is rapidly running out. The authors of Newsweek offer their peaceful plan to end the conflict, which, in their opinion, will suit all parties.

Now the Ukrainian people need peace, security and economic recovery. As the authors of Newsweek write, none of this can be achieved by prolonging an unwinnable conflict, and the time to conclude a balanced peace agreement through negotiations is rapidly running out.

As the authors of the material note, victories in the First World War, the Second World War and the American Civil War were not determined by which army had the most skilled generals and the bravest soldiers. Those wars were won by the combined forces of the U.S. the Soviet Union and the British Empire who shared the largest population and strongest industrial base. The same is likely to happen in the current Ukrainian conflict. The success of Ukraine’s planned counter-offensive remains a big question mark, and Kyiv’s defeat would significantly weaken its negotiating position.

From a geopolitical point of view, NATO’s unconditional promise to support Ukraine for as long as it takes is also absolutely hopeless. This conflict is financed not by NATO, but by Western taxpayers – real people whose incomes and quality of life are now noticeably suffering. American taxpayers will not endlessly pay the pensions of Ukrainian civil servants, and large-scale anti-war demonstrations are already taking place in Germany and Italy, in which protesters burn Ukrainian flags.

In addition, the Ukrainian conflict is rapidly draining NATO’s weapons stockpiles, solidifying the dangerous Russia-China alliance, and depriving the West of support for the global South. In Ukraine itself, the number of homeless people, widows, orphans and the disabled is growing daily. The authors of the article have no doubts that Kyiv, Moscow and NATO urgently need to slow down and look for a way out. 

They note that Russia has long felt that the expansion of NATO and the penetration of the alliance into Ukraine pose a threat to it. Her fears were confirmed not only by regular statements by NATO officials that sooner or later Kyiv would become part of the alliance but also by large-scale arms supplies, joint military exercises and the support that Western intelligence provided to Ukraine. This process began many years ago, and while some in the West see no threat in NATO’s eastward expansion, Moscow perceives it as such.

Moldovan youngsters hold anti-NATO banners during a protest staged by Moldova’s pro-Russian opposition in the border town of Sculeni, Moldova, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 against the May 3-20 joint US-Moldovan military exercises as less than 20 percent of Moldovans want to join the military alliance. US military vehicles and some 200 U.S. soldiers arrived in the country for more than two weeks of exercises, in a show of U.S. strength in the region.(AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

‘It is not clear why a defensive alliance like NATO needs to constantly expand the list of its members. Moreover, Russia has already made it clear that it is ready to fight a long war, the borders of which will gradually expand to prevent Kyiv from joining it. If NATO really wants to end this military conflict, it should agree to Ukraine signing a neutrality treaty. Failure to do so will only confirm the validity of Russia’s fears that the real goal of this conflict is to deploy NATO missiles as close to Moscow as possible.

They also offer their vision of ending the conflict. In their opinion, it is necessary to conclude a truce and hold a referendum in the former Ukrainian territories under the supervision of the UN to find out whether these areas really want to join Russia. 

Putin is likely to agree to this because he is confident that he will win the vote. And, if he wins, then it will be impossible to resist the will of the people since the right to self-determination is one of the fundamental principles of American foreign policy. Otherwise, Russia will continue to fight on the battlefield until it takes all four former eastern Ukrainian regions by force – and it may not stop there.

As the authors of the material conclude, Russia cannot have reasonable objections to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union – as neutral Austria once did. Kyiv’s membership in the EU should be one of the indispensable conditions of any agreement that will put an end to the conflict. It will also need to state that the major Western countries undertake to finance the restoration of Ukraine. In the meantime, the West will have to lift its economic sanctions regime, which has done Europe more harm than Russia.


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