A Workable Settlement to the Ukraine War Comes into View

Russia cannot be so severely rebuffed that it rushes into the arms of China.

by Conrad Black

The Ukraine war is not at all hopeless. It appears to have reached a point where neither protagonist wishes it to end on the basis of the current disposition of forces on the ground, but both sides and America and NATO would like the war to end as all find it increasingly onerous. Neither protagonist can force an end to it, and NATO is the only entity that could conceivably broker an agreement to end the war. A workable basis of settlement may now be coming into view.

President Putin blundered disastrously and inexplicably in imagining that a force of 150,000 combat soldiers could subdue Ukraine, a country of over 40 million people, which Mr. Putin must have known had a well-trained army of 200,000 and a substantially trained militia of another 300,000 men, and that there was a reasonable likelihood that Ukraine would be generously supplied by NATO.

No sane person in the Kremlin could have imagined that NATO would complacently acquiesce in a Russian subjugation of Ukraine if that country showed any serious disposition to resist the Russian invasion strenuously.

It is a little challenging now to think back seven months to the beginning of the war. American aerial reconnaissance published for the world detailed photographs of the assembly of the Russian invasion force day after day, President Zelensky scoffed at suggestions that Mr. Putin would actually invade, Mr. Putin announced that Ukraine had no right to sovereign existence and was governed by “Nazis and drug addicts,” (a pretty far-fetched charge against the Jewish Ukrainian leader), and he launched his invasion.

The U.S joint chiefs chairman, Mark Milley, predicted that Kyiv would fall in three days and that the war would be over within two weeks, and President Biden offered Mr. Zelensky and his family safe flight out of Ukraine.

As all the world knows, the Russian generals proved even more inept than General Milley, and it quickly emerged that far from being ambiguous, Ukraine was pawing the ground to gain revenge for the Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014.

That seizure followed Western interference in Ukraine to assist the Maidan Revolution which ousted the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who with help from Russia had been elected in 2010 and had moved to reject a closer association with Europe and to move instead into the Russian orbit.

Russia has never explicitly accepted the validity of the secession of the other 14 republics from association with the Kremlin of which the largest and most strategic is Ukraine. The tug-of-war between the influence of Russia and the West in Ukraine has seesawed throughout the years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the present war represents the escalation of that contest to what should finally produce a decisive outcome.

Ukraine is a complicated historical amalgam of Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, and Tatars and in modern times was never an explicit jurisdiction until established as one by Lenin in 1920. Mr. Putin’s interest in and desire to regain Ukraine is understandable but unacceptable to the West.

Were Mr. Putin to do so, he would substantially undo the fragmentation of the Soviet and formerly Russian Empire at the end of the Cold War, which was the greatest and most bloodless strategic victory in the history of the world: the West’s great rival collapsed like a soufflé without a shot being fired.


One Response

  1. Our ‘collective promises’ mean nothing, as demostrated by broken protective promises since breakup of the USSR. We are witnessing a Western version of our hudna”s final planned stage, which is betrayaĺ of the most vulnerable.
    Azerbaijan*Armenia are next to the slaughterhouse.
    The answers are left to the Solomonic Student or to the cadaver caretakers.

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