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Could the Ukraine War Come to An End Soon?

M270 MLRS Rocket Artillery
M270 MLRS. Image: ROK Military handout.

Could peace be within reach in Ukraine? The world is getting tired of the war. Each day, there is a steady drumbeat of violence, death, and mayhem. Now Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy could be headed to the negotiating table if preliminary requirements are met. There could be a peace summit by the end of February. 

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There Could be a Road to Peace

Ukraine’s foreign minister said on December 26 that his government supports a road to peace talks headlined by a summit sponsored by the United Nations and potentially mediated by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

But Both Sides Are Far Apart

But there are thorny requirements that Ukraine is insisting on before the talks. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia must approve of a tribunal for Russian war criminals accused of wrongdoing in the war. 

At Least They Are Talking About Diplomacy

Kuleba told the Associated Press that he was hopeful about diplomacy. “Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” he said. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.”

Ukraine Has Tough Demands

Zelenskyy also demands that the borders of Ukraine be restored to what existed in 1991, all Russian military personnel and weapons must be removed from the country including Crimea, Russia would be required to pay war reparations, and Ukrainian prisoners would be released.

Putin Could Be Interested in Negotiations

Putin has also shown support for peace talks. In an interview with state-run media on December 25, the Russian president said Russia is “prepared to negotiate some acceptable outcomes with all the participants of this process.” 

He accused the Ukrainians of not supporting peace talks, but then Kuleba made his comments a day later showing optimism for diplomacy.

Combat Rages in the East 

Russia is still attacking Ukrainian-held cities in the Donbas region with missiles and howitzers. Heavy fighting continues around the town of Bakhmut. Russian forces are still struggling to take the city. The next step would have to be a ceasefire and it is not clear if both sides would agree to such a scenario. Tens of thousands of troops would have to get the word and heed the order to quit shooting and hold off on acts of war while the talks take place. The ceasefire would be fragile and easy to break.

UN Requires Russia to Pay Ukraine 

While the Russians and Ukrainians are far away from a cease-fire, it is encouraging that they are discussing peace. The Kremlin would not likely accept the preconditions for talks but at least there could be some type of roadmap for a peace process. The United Nations is an obvious forum for talks. However, Russia still has veto power as it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and could disallow any conditions set forth by that body. The UN General Assembly has already adopted a resolution requiring Russia to pay war reparations to Ukraine. Ninety-four countries voted for the reparations measure while 14 were against and 73 abstained.

Meanwhile, fighting continues and Russia is aiming to take full control of its claims to the Donbas region and Ukraine ejects all Russian forces from its ground. Putin wants the Ukrainians to respect a Russian annexation of disputed territories. Both sides have accused the other of not being serious about negotiations. Russia believes that Ukraine continues to attack deep within Russian territory with drones and Ukraine is chagrined that Russia keeps attacking civilian targets. So, Moscow and Kyiv are far apart when it comes to agreeing to a ceasefire and heading to the bargaining table.

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Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations. 

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.