How might the war in Ukraine end?
As the war rages in Ukraine, with neither side able to seize a path to military victory, the best hope for ending the war is a peace deal that serves both sides of the conflict.
But what kind of agreement would be good enough for each to stop fighting without admitting defeat?
- Will Ukraine agree to not join NATO?
- Will Russia withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory?
- Will Ukraine give autonomy to the Russian minority in the East?
- Will Russia hand back Crimea which it occupied in 2014?
Professor of Military History at the University of Calgary, Alexander Hill, shared with us his attempt to answer the thorny question: What would give Vladimir Putin a face-saving way to exit Ukraine?
“If Putin doesn’t want to be seen as having lost the war, then he must be able to claim success — not only in securing a Ukrainian commitment not to join NATO, but in terms of territory,” he writes in The Conversation.
Hill points out that Russia has not been defeated yet, despite setbacks. “To further complicate things, suggestions that the war is going in Ukraine’s favour is putting more political pressure on Volodomyr Zelensky not to give any ground — literally and figuratively — in negotiations,” he says.
The U.S.’s strategy is not clear in these negotiations. In some circles, there have been suggestions that Washington may be only too happy to watch Putin get stuck in a quagmire. Just remember the costly invasion and attempted occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
“For the U.S., a protracted war would not only put increased pressure on Putin’s regime but singularly provide the impetus for western and NATO unity and promises of increased defence spending within the alliance.”
In the short term, therefore, there seems little hope for a lasting negotiated settlement. Both Putin and Zelensky have too much invested to back down on key issues of territory at this point. As the war drags on, however, that could change.
(Cover: Istanbul Turkey 29.03.2022 Russia-Ukraine Talks Begin in Istanbul, Ukrainian and Russian Negotiators Meet in Turkey for peace. Via Shutterstock)