The Ukraine War is an extremely dangerous war between nuclear superpowers in a world desperately in need of peace and cooperation.
There is a new glimmer of hope for a quick negotiated end to the war in Ukraine.
In his recent press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Joe Biden stated, “I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact, there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet. If that’s the case, in consultation with my French and my NATO friends, I’ll be happy to sit down with Putin to see what he wants, has in mind.” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman replied that Russia is ready for negotiations aimed “to ensure our interests.”
Now is the time for mediation, based on the core interests and bargaining space of the three main parties to the conflict: Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
The war is devastating Ukraine. According to EU President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine has already lost 100,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilians. Not only Ukraine but also Russia, the US, and EU—indeed the entire world—stand to benefit enormously from an end to the conflict, lifting both the nuclear dread that hangs over the world today and the devastating economic fallout of the war.
No less an authority than the Chairman of the U.S. Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, has urged a negotiated political solution to the conflict, noting that Ukraine’s chance for a military victory, is “not high.”
There are four core issues to negotiate: Ukraine’s sovereignty and security; the fraught issue of NATO enlargement; the fate of Crimea; and the future of the Donbas.
Ukraine demands above all to be a sovereign country, free from Russia’s domination, and with secure borders. There are some in Russia, perhaps including Putin himself, who believe that Ukraine is really part of Russia. There will be no negotiated peace without Russia recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty and national security backed by explicit international guarantees of the UN Security Council and nations including Germany, India, and Türkiye.
Russia demands above all that NATO renounce its intention to expand to Ukraine and Georgia, which would fully encircle Russia in the Black Sea (adding Ukraine and Georgia to existing Black Sea NATO members Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey). NATO refers to itself as a defensive alliance, yet Russia believes differently, knowing full well of the U.S. penchant for regime-change operations against governments it opposes (including Ukraine in 2014, with the U.S. role in the overthrow of then pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych).
Russia also claims Crimea as home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since 1783. Putin warned George Bush Jr. in 2008 that if the U.S. pushed NATO into Ukraine, Russia would re-take Crimea, which Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954. Until Yanukovich’s overthrow, the Crimea question was handled prudently by Russia-Ukrainian agreements that gave Russia a long-term lease on its naval facilities in Sevastopol, Crimea.
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