Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Here’s Why There Will Be No Negotiated Settlement In Ukraine Anytime Soon

There have been growing calls for a negotiated settlement in Ukraine, especially as the fears of a nuclear weapons exchange between Russia and NATO grow. There is no question that the Russian-Ukrainian War has been devastating for both Ukraine and the world economy as a whole.

Before we get into the analysis, I just want to state a couple of obvious things. I’m always for peace talks. Give me a choice between people talking and people dying, I will always support the former. In addition, I’m opposed to World War III. A nuclear exchange would be very bad for humanity as a whole.

But we shouldn’t expect the Russians and Ukrainians to sit down for serious peace talks anytime soon and here’s why:

Why Russia Won’t Negotiate

It’s no secret the Russians did not expect this war to go on this long when they invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Putin thought his military could conquer Kyiv in two days.

To say this war has been largely an unmitigated disaster for Russia would be an understatement. Although independent verification of the Russian death toll is nearly impossible, the Russians may have lost as many as 50,000 men so far. The Dutch open-source intelligence (OSINT) blog Oryx has visually confirmed that the Russians have lost 7,612 vehicles including 1,428 tanks, 688 armored fighting vehicles, 1,622 infantry fighting vehicles, and 252 armored personnel carriers. Remember, these are just the visually confirmed losses which mean the real losses are higher.

Despite the high number of Russian casualties don’t expect them to come to the peace table anytime soon. The main obstacle to Russia coming to the peace table in order to have serious negotiations is Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin himself as the Institute For The Study Of War reports just today:

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to reject the idea of Ukrainian sovereignty in a way that is fundamentally incompatible with serious negotiations. Putin continued to reject Ukrainian sovereignty during a speech at the Valdai Discussion Club on October 27. Putin stated that the “single real guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty” can only be Russia, which “created” Ukraine.[1] Putin reiterated that it is a “historical fact” that Ukrainians and Russians are fundamentally “one people” that were wrongly separated into “different states.”[2] Putin stated on October 26 that Ukraine has “lost its sovereignty” and become a NATO vassal.[3]

Putin’s statements reject the legal fact that Ukraine is a fully sovereign state, that the Russian Federation recognized Ukraine’s sovereignty, and that the Ukrainian people exist as a distinct nation. Putin’s perpetuation of the narrative that Ukraine and Russia are a single people separated into different states by arbitrary historical circumstance indicates his continued objective to destroy the Ukrainian state and erase the notion of a Ukrainian people. He added during the question-and-answer period that “if some part of that single ethnicity at some moment decided that it had reached such a level as to consider itself a separate people, then one could only respond with respect.”[4]  The many conditionals in this comment underscore Putin’s rejection of the idea that there is currently any independent Ukrainian national identity. These statements, along with many Russian actions, must cause serious reflection on the question of whether Russia’s war against Ukraine is a genocidal action since genocide is legally defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”[5]

There’s not much of a discussion to be had if Putin still does not recognize Ukraine as an independent, distinctive nation. The odds of the Ukrainians deciding to become Russians are virtually nil. This is the same reason why there is no Arab-Israeli peace. The Arabs refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Instead of coming to the peace table, the Russians are now trying to buy time. They’re launching missiles and Iranian suicide drones at Ukrainian power infrastructure in order to try and break the Ukrainian people’s will to resist, hamper Ukraine’s war industry, and destroy the Ukrainian government’s ability to govern.

What are the Russians waiting for? They’re waiting for the 300,000 to 1 million Russian conscripts that have been mobilized to be trained and deployed to the front lines. In addition, the Russians still have plenty of equipment in storage and their war industry can produce more. With that fresh infusion of blood and steel, the Russians hope to grind the Ukrainians down and force them to surrender.

As long as Putin believes he can win the war, Russia will not come to the peace table.

Why Ukraine Will Not Negotiate

The simple explanation for why Ukraine won’t come to the peace table is that right now, they’re winning. The Russians have been unable to go on the offensive since the summer.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainians dealt the Russians a major blow with the recapture of Lyman. The Ukrainians also appear to be preparing a major offensive to retake Kherson, which is the first major Ukrainian city the Russians took.

As for the Ukrainian people, they’re still up for a fight. In a poll conducted in September by Gallup, 70% of Ukrainians support continuing to fight until they win. In addition, 91% of those who want to fight define victory as retaking all of the territories Russia has taken since 2014, including Crimea. Trading (more) land for peace is not a popular proposition in Ukraine.

Now some want to force Ukraine to negotiate by cutting off American aid. Forget the morality of putting the entire responsibility to make peace on the victim of aggression for a second. The problem with this is that Americans still want to continue to support Ukraine. A poll was recently done by Trafalgar Group for Convention of States Action and it found that only less than a quarter of Americans want to end aid to Ukraine. This is consistent with other polling that shows strong support for Ukraine aid by Americans.

Plus there is a misunderstanding about American aid in this case. There are no pallets of cash being sent over to Ukraine. Instead, the money is given to American arms manufacturers to replace weapons that are drawn from U.S. inventories and sent to Ukraine.

Plus the woke left sees the Ukraine War as their Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War attracted communists, socialists, and fascists from all over the world. The woke left sees Russia as the embodiment of “Christian nationalism” that must be defeated. Never mind that Ukrainians are actually more religious than Russians.

There will be no peace between Russia and Ukraine as long as both countries believe they can win. In addition, the two countries are so far apart it’s hard to see where peace talks can even start on common ground. This war has to be fought out until the bitter end.

In the meantime, the risk of nuclear war will remain high as Russia and NATO will continue to play a game of high-stakes chicken.