Is it a fight to the death (of everyone) in Ukraine?
Canada’s government ministers leading our engagement in the Russia-Ukraine war frequently say they are supporting Ukraine to defeat Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.
Indeed, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her April 2022 Budget speech, “Putin’s assault has been so vicious that we all now understand that the world’s democracies — including our own — can be safe only once the Russian tyrant and his armies are entirely vanquished.”
With statements so unequivocal as that, it’s difficult to see how a peace settlement of this terrible war in Ukraine can be reached – and just as importantly – how a global nuclear war can be avoided.
Even hawkish commentators have expressed surprise. Rob Huebert of the University of Calgary reacted incredulously to Minister Freedland’s comment.
“We need to put this in context,” he wrote in the National Post. “This is the second-most powerful person in the Canadian government very publicly calling for the vanquishing of Russian President Vladimir Putin a.k.a. ‘the Russian tyrant.’ The speech is clear — she is not saying that the tyrant needs to be vanquished only in Ukraine or his armies defeated there. In that one sentence she has explicatively linked the security of all the world’s democracies to eliminating/vanquishing him directly.”
This week, our favourite CBC podcast, Front Burner, explores, “The case for a ‘good enough’ peace in Ukraine.”
In this program Gerard Toal — a political geographer and a professor of government and international affairs at Virginia Tech — makes the case for an imperfect peace deal with Russia. It’s a welcomed clear-eyed view on the situation we rarely hear from other experts on the CBC, or anywhere, really.
He looks at the potential for a peace deal – which Russia has been seeking but Ukraine has refused to discuss – and breaks it down into several different scenarios:
- Full victory of the Ukrainian military on all Ukraine’s territory including Crimea and the Donbas regions, with Putin being overthrown and dragged before the International Criminal Court, and Russia paying war reparations.
- A victory where Ukraine gets back all of its lands but Putin remains in the Kremlin.
- A victory where Ukraine gets back all of its lands except Crimea or the Donbas regions – essentially freezing on the conflict right now.
For some, likely Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, only the full victory may be acceptable. But this could be the road to disaster, says Toal.
“Ever since the nuclear age – the world has been sentenced to the need for restraint on war where nuclear weapons are involved. You have to negotiate – even with your worst enemy.”
- Listen to “The case for a ‘good enough’ peace in Ukraine,” on CBC Front Burner, aired on October 18, 2022
(Cover image: Kyiv, Ukraine; February 24 2022: Putin attacks, there is war in Ukraine, Explosions in Kiev, missiles on other cities. The land invasion has begun. Via Shutterstock)