When Russia launched its unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine on February 24, few military experts expected that the besieged nation would hold out for more than a few weeks at most. Now as the war has passed the 100-day mark, Ukraine continues to fight on, while Russia’s efforts to capture key western cities including the capital of Kyiv have failed.
However, the fight for Ukrainian territory is far from over.
Last month, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made the bold suggestion that Ukraine should accept giving up territory in its eastern region to reach a peace deal with Russia to end the conflict.
While addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the 98-year-old career diplomat said that Kyiv could antagonize Moscow by failing to restart negotiations, and such a move could have disastrous consequences for European stability.
Throughout his career, Kissinger has been a proponent of “Realpolitik,” which calls for politics based on practical objectives rather than on ideals.
“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome,” Kissinger, who served under the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, explained. “Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”
Russia Open to Talks, While Ukraine Isn’t
For its part, Moscow has signaled that it would be open to restarting peace talks, but Russian officials have said Ukraine would have to take the first step. Previously, the two sides had explored a neutrality plan in peace talks but little came from it.
“We will be ready to return as soon as Ukraine shows a constructive position and provides at least a reaction to the proposals submitted to it,” Russian deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko told reporters last month.
However, Kyiv has been clear that it would be unwilling to concede territory, and on Tuesday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his forces will fight on to recover all of the territory currently occupied by Russian forces.
“We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” Zelensky said via video link at an event hosted by Britain’s Financial Times newspaper. The Ukrainian leader added that a “stalemate” was not an option, and that “we have to achieve full deoccupation of our entire territory.”
Zelensky’s comments come as others, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have also said that it would be important not to “humiliate” Moscow or Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Ukraine may have to accept some Russian demands.
For Zelensky, driving out the Russian invaders is not about humiliation.
“We are not going to humiliate anyone, we are going to respond in kind,” he continued.
Russia has claimed that it launched its “special military operation” to “disarm” and “denazify” Ukraine, and Russia’s troops had even reached the outskirts of the capital of Kyiv in March, but it has been forced to retreat. The Kremlin has since refocused its assault in the eastern regions, where Russian-backed separatists have declared independence. Moscow has demanded that the Ukrainian government recognize its territorial claim to the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed in 2014 as well as the claims of the separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk, the southeastern provinces that make up the Donbas region.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.