With regard to Russia’s war in Ukraine, are you in the “peace camp” or the “Justice camp”? Do you want a peace agreement to end the war or do you want to punish Russia for the terrible things it has done no matter how long it takes? “The Economist on Ukraine” It is rarely wise to take strategic decisions when enraged by someone’s behavior. It is currently hard not to want to flatten Russia for its illegal and brutal war with Ukraine (the Justice camp) but it would not be in our or the world’s interest to do so (Peace camp). “The Russian war in Ukraine”
Everyone will suffer from continuing the war even without escalation. The world will suffer serious food shortages, oil and gas shortages, disruption and reorganization of the global trading system, and Ukraine and its economy will be in ruins. And no one should forget that Russia is a nuclear power, in fact it has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
Ukraine President Zelensky said that he is willing to keep Ukraine neutral and out of NATO (but in the EU). He also demanded that Russia withdraw to the territories it occupied on February 23, 2022, which included the Crimea and parts of the largely Russian speaking Donbas. In a face-to-face interview with the managing editor of the Economist magazine on March 27 and as quoted in my blog above, Zelensky stated that: “Victory is being able to save as many lives as possible…because without this nothing would make sense. Our land is important, yes, but ultimately, it’s just territory.”
But on April 17, “President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war with Russia.” “Zelensky Russia war tapper interview-cnn-tv”
Speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum last week, Henry Kissinger stated that “it’s time to think about a diplomatic settlement to end the war, and that settlement will have to include territorial concessions to Russia. ‘Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante,’ referring to the pre-war lines in which Russia controlled the Crimean Peninsula and approximately a third of territory in the Donbas. ‘Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.’” “Does Henry Kissinger have a point?”
It is politically very difficult for either Ukraine or Russia to give up territory they hold or aspire to. Edward Luttwak, a strategist and author of “The Logic of War and Peace” among many other books, has proposed a solution to this political dilemma, which like all political compromises should be acceptable to both sides without being fully satisfactory to either. He proposes to settle the territorial issues via an internationally supervised plebiscite for determining the fate of each Oblast:
“That leaves the disposition of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, substantial territories that Zelensky does not have the authority to give up, and without which Putin cannot leave the table where he has gambled and lost so much. While Putin cannot be given the two regions he demanded before starting the war, he can be provided with something that he can portray as a victory: plebiscites in both regions where properly certified residents, including returning refugees, would be allowed to vote on whether their oblast should remain Ukrainian or join Russia.
“Upon acceptance of the plebiscites in principle, a cease-fire would come into immediate effect, with Russia’s respect of their terms guaranteed by the ease of reimposing sanctions just lifted.” “How the Ukraine war must end” Allowing the residents of each region to determine their own affiliation can hardly be objectionable to the rest of us.
The Justice Camp and the military industry that cheers it on should yield to the Peace Camp in the interest of all of us. “Ukraine’s and Russia’s war”
3 thoughts on “End the war in Ukraine￼”
There’s some flawed logic at work here, Warren. The ‘Peace’ and ‘Justice’ outcomes are not the only ones, and Ukraine itself seeks only the territories it lost to Russian aggression — it doesn’t hope to ‘flatten Russia’, as you suggest. And Luttwak’s suggestion is not the middle ground it may appear, since Russia has been systematically depopulating the occupied areas of non-Russophiles since 2014; popular referenda could not therefore reflect the will of the population of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts and Crimea quo ante. It seems to me that most reasonable people would support an outcome which could be termed, in your schemata, ‘mini-Justice’: that Ukraine should be allowed to reclaim its lost land.
Hi Martin, The wish to flatten Russia that I referred to is the wish/goal of my Secretary of Defence and others here in the U.S.
Wow. Henry Kissinger still influential (and sensible) at 99!
By “justice,” I think you mean old-testament (eye-for-an-eye) justice. A case can also be made for punishment on the ground of Aristotle’s rectificatory justice. What used to be called the Manchuria Doctrine is the implicit international agreement to accept existing country borders. An enforcement mechanism is needed to maintain that agreement.