There is only one endgame.
Here's the kind of peace that NATO should be pushing for:
1. Withdrawal of all Russian troops, including Donbas "rebels", from Ukraine, Crimea and Donbas.
2. EU peacekeepers replacing Ukrainian and Russian troops in Crimea and Donbas
3. UN supervised plebiscites in Crimea and Donbas (Donbas divided into four plebiscite zones) to determine sovereignty. Both Donbas exiles now in Russia and Crimean exiles now in Ukraine and elsewhere can return to vote, without arms, under UN and EU protection. All election results to be final and enforced by the international community.
4. Russia agrees to transfer a substantial portion of currently frozen assets to Ukraine for rebuilding. With the first transfer, lifting of sanctions begins, to be completed when Ukrainian rebuilding is complete.
5. No limits on Ukrainian rearmament, or ability to join the EU. Ten year moratorium on NATO membership, lapsing immediately in the event of any Russian attack on Ukraine or movement of Russian or Belarusian troops within 50 miles of any Ukrainian border.
Jonathon, I own two military style rifles, a Ruger .223 cal. semi-automatic (Mini-14) and a Ruger Mini-30 (7.62x39mm), the latter equipped with a scope. I would like to donate these weapons to the Ukraine forces. Both are in excellent condition (I bought the Mini-30 new; stainless steel barrel and breach); fewer than 40 rounds have been fired through it). I have not fired either of these rifles in over 5 years; I have no use for them. I would also include several hundred rounds of both calibers. Is there any absolutely trustworthy agency I can donate these to and be 100% assured they will reach the folks in Ukraine who need them?
Shay Katiri recently pointed out that severe sanctions unaccompanied by clear signals that military retaliation will be met militarily (not just with more sanctions) tend to invite military retaliation. Assuming the Biden administration continues to shy away from even the appearance of militarily responding to Putin, what should we do about this dilemma?
Answer to the headline question: The same way Ho Chi Minh negotiated with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, or the way Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan negotiated with George W. Bush...
Damn you for making me cry at work, JVL. Definitely save the video for after the article. It makes for a decent emotional handkerchief.
If you haven't already focused on it in the discussion, could you please explain the role of Western oligarchs (sorry, I can't think of a better word) in their Governments' actions? Like all the $$ invested in real estate in NYC, London, etc. etc....I'm an artist and have watched the auction and fair and art advisor scene from afar in horror - it is a money launderer's playground.
We also told the Ukrainians we’d defend their borders. So much for our word, too.
Can anyone comment on Arnold's tenure as California's governor? What was the consensus of his performance there? This video, his post January 6th video, and his general positioning the last few years have done a lot to elevate him in my eyes.
Thank you for making me read that. I'm a crying hot mess, but it's something we all need to read, absorb and do something about.
Maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but during the years of the cold war our cold war defense policy seemed to be predicated on the idea of the USSR as a rational actor, and trying to avoid an accidental engagement or provocation that would be misinterpreted as preparations fora first strike. Putin's actions don't seem "rational" to the same degree as the USSR of old, particularly since his plans for a lightning takeover of Ukraine failed and global sanctions took place. If the rest of the world simply holds their present course, Russia collapses into the same state it was before the fall of the Berlin wall. This does not seem like a rational leadership approach.
Jonathan Last - Thank you for your writing and the work you are doing. I read the AP dispatch and cried. This is all so senseless.
I very much appreciate the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger and agree with his assessment of the Russian people. As in all wars it is the people who are lied to and lead to disaster - they are the ones who will suffer for Putin's idiocy.
I believe that the western democracies will have the resolve to see this through and we should all work in any way possible to support the people of Ukraine. I hope that we can avoid a nuclear conflict but I am afraid that is, unfortunately, in the hands of Vladimir Putin and his military leaders. I suspect that he may escalate this conflict with weapons of mass destruction (maybe even nukes) and if that happens the conflict will expand - we will have no other choice. Perhaps WWIII has already begun.
My final comment is for folks to read Timothy Snyder's book, Bloodlands, which documents the period between Hitler and Stalin in Eastern Europe. The book provides some good background, particularly about Ukraine's historical relationship with Russia and the old Soviet Union. Over 4 million people were intentionally starved to death by Stalin before WWII. With that background it is easier to understand the suspicion that Ukraine will have in any negotiations with the Russian government.
My first thought is that we are not the ones that should be negotiating. We (and our children) are not the ones facing death or dying. These are decisions and things that can only REALLY be done by the Russians and the Ukrainians.
We cannot decide for them. We cannot force them to settle for one thing or another thing. It would be wrong for us to do so for the Ukrainians and I do not think it is possible for us to force (more than we are already trying to do) Putin.
Do you negotiate with war criminals? The reality is that you have to. It may not be nice or feel good or even necessarily be effective--but who else are you going to talk to? Who holds the power of decision?
Our jib here is to support the Ukrainians. But we have to let them decide.
Does that mean we change what WE do (reduce or remove sanctions)? Only if we then become part of the negotiations in concert with the Ukrainians--and only if we actually agree as part of that larger thing.
I would hope... will hope that both we and the Ukrainian people have the strength and dedication to oppose this evil and not reward it.
Putin has not attempted to rally the Russian people to support his war, instead he's lied about the cause and used his power to prevent the Russian people from knowing the truth of what's happening. His actions suggest that he believes his power and security would be endangered if the Russian people knew the truth. Eventually between the effects of sanctions and returning soldiers the Russian people are likely to learn the truth. What is his long term plan with regard to that truth? Let's say we could bring the truth to the Russian people sooner, much sooner (like through some combination of hacking and social media), might it change the course of the war?
Well, now we know his weakness. How do you put poison in botox?
I wish some of our US politicians had to witness and literally had to walk the Mariupol trench before tweeting support for Russia. Everyone should read the AP article and at least understand what happens when everyday citizens really have to defend democracy and freedom. Excellent post.
It's hard to separate emotion from intellect. My brain sees the killing of civilians, the bombing of children, and starts to game out scenarios. What could escalate? What could retaliation look like? How do we properly structure sanctions to strangle military logistics?
Then I scroll past the hundredth picture of a dead toddler and my heart screams, "I don't care if the Russian soldiers are conscripts or not anymore. Kill 'em all."
We are living through a catastrophe. It could spiral out of control at any moment. We live in interesting times.