Russia ‘Open’ to Talks on Ukraine As Its Losses Continue – Decades from now, dozens of books will be written about the war in Ukraine. While we still don’t know how or when it could end, it is also likely that the war will be compared to past Russian/Soviet debacles such as the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the Winter War (1939-40), and the nearly decade long war in Afghanistan that played a key role in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Russia may simply be repeating past mistakes.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed that he was “open to negotiations.”
Still, like past Russian rulers, he is attempting to retain his pride, as he has maintained that the West must accept Moscow’s demands.
The announcement from Putin came just a day after U.S. President Joe Biden said he was willing to talk if Putin was truly interested in finding a way to end the war.
Putin Rejecting the Olive Branch on Ukraine?
In fact, Russia slows little interest in meeting what is likely a key demand – pulling all of its forces from Ukraine.
“What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday. Leaving Ukraine is a condition that Russia “obviously” would reject, the spokesperson added.
“The special military operation is continuing,” Peskov added – using Moscow’s term to refer to its unprovoked and unwarranted invasion that began in February.
The apparent olive branch from Washington was suggested on Thursday when Biden met with French President Emmanuel Macron in the White House, where the two leaders said they’d still hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine.
However, Biden, who has not spoken directly to Putin since Russia launched the invasion on February 24, had previously branded Putin a “butcher” who “cannot stay in power.”
Russian Losses in Ukraine
Moscow may maintain that its “special military operation” is continuing, but it could be argued it certainly can’t be going as planned.
It was reported on Wednesday that Putin had lost more than 6,000 troops in just the past two weeks, bringing the total losses to 88,880 killed since the fighting began nine months ago.
In addition to the high butcher’s bill of personnel killed, the Kremlin is reported to have lost an additional 43 tanks, 75 armored personnel carriers (APCs), and 69 other vehicles and fuel tanks.
Russian forces have been pushed back across swaths of the country, and even withdrew from the city of Kherson in the southern region last month.
That was notable, as it was the first major city and only regional capital captured by Russian forces.
Its liberation has been seen as a critical moment for Russia, and its ability to carry on the war as winter sets in.
It is hardly the only setback for Moscow.
The Kremlin has tried to capture the city for months without success, and according to a recent report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces, in their current degraded states, are likely unable to accomplish the goal of capturing the besieged urban center.
Russia has expanded its combat strength on small settlements around the city center, and that has resulted in a continued attrition of Russian manpower and equipment. The same attrition of manpower and equipment occurred in 1905, 1940 and in the 1980s.
Though the Soviets didn’t lose the Winter War, it was a costly adventure – while the other two conflicts were truly bitter defeats.
At this stage, even if Russia can somehow achieve any of its goals in Ukraine, the outcome is a Pyrrhic Victory at best.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.