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Bad Idea? Joe Biden Offered Ukraine Territory to Russia to End the War

TOS-1 Rocket Artillery
Russian TOS-1 Rocket Artillery. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

In public, President Joe Biden has shown unwavering commitment to Ukraine – pledging billions of dollars in aid packages. At the same time, last month, he agreed to send Kyiv a total of thirty-one M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs).

However, behind the scenes, Biden has continued to question whether Ukraine can actually defeat Russia.

Joe Biden Had a Plan to End Ukraine War

CNN had reported last June that White House officials were losing confidence that Ukraine would ever be able to reclaim the land that it lost to Russia in the early stages of the war.

That was of course before Ukraine launched its late summer offensive that successfully pushed back the Kremlin’s forces – while Russia continues to lose men and material in the brutal fighting.

There are still those in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that believe Ukraine will face an uphill battle in retaking Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.  

Perhaps that explains why last month, Biden may have floated an idea that would see Ukraine give up 20 percent of its territory to end the war. According to a report from Newsweek, citing the Swiss-German newspaper NZZ, CIA Director William Burns offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a fifth of Ukraine’s territory as part of a peace plan.

Both Kyiv and Moscow quickly rejected the proposal, which had been drawn up at the behest of Biden. 

It doesn’t make clear what territory would be ceded to Russia – but it would likely include the Eastern Donbas region where heavy fighting continues, and that would be in addition to Crimea. Russian officials dismissed it, arguing they “will win the war in the long run anyway,” according to NZZ – while Kyiv shot it down as they were not willing to have their territory divided.

Putin Channeled Stalingrad Victory 

The news that Biden had suggested Ukraine give up territory coincided with reports that Putin on Thursday marked the 80th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army’s victory at Stalingrad to rally Russians around his military campaign in Ukraine.

The Russian leader attended the commemorations held in Volgograd, the city in Southern Russia that was called Stalingrad until 1961. It was the site of five months of fighting, lasting from August 1942 to February 1943, which became the bloodiest battle of the Second World War. It was where the Red Army successfully encircled and then subsequently destroyed the German Sixth Army – turning the tide of the war and leading to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

Much of the city was reduced to rubble before the Nazi forces surrendered on February 2, 1943.

On Thursday, thousands of people reportedly lined Volgograd’s streets to watch a victory parade that included modern as well as World War II-era tanks and other armored vehicles. In addition, a new bust of Stalin, along with Soviet Commanders Georgy Zhukov and Alexander Vasilyevsky, was erected in the city on Wednesday.

While Putin may have tried to use the event to rally the people, it won’t be enough to ensure Russia sees victory in Ukraine.

MORE: Ukraine Needs M1 Abrams Tanks Now (But Will Have to Wait)

MORE: Joe Biden Won’t Send F-16 Fighters to Ukraine

MORE: Why Putin Should Fear the F-16 Fighter 

MORE: Why Donald Trump Can’t Win in 2024

Author Experience and Expertise: 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 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who 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. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Malik Zakari

    February 2, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    The end of this war is near, if Ukraine and Russia be more realistic based on the operations on the ground. Each side should make concessions. Concessions by Ukraine: Most of the currently occupied Dombas and Zaporozhye oblast should remain under Russian occupation including Crimea. Concessions by Russia: Remaining Dombas occupied by Ukraine, parts of Zaporozhye oblast and all of Kherson oblast should go under Ukrainian control.

  2. Rick

    February 3, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Nonsense. Only Ukraine has the right and authority to end the war. If their comments are any indication they won’t be settling very soon.

  3. Tamerlane

    February 3, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    There “are still” people in the DoD who think Ukraine can’t retake Crimea? No shit Sherlock. That as a likelihood of zero. ZERO. The Russians view it as core Russian territory, and it will never been successfully invaded, because the invasion of it will precipitate the use of nuclear arms. And those of us who do work in the DoD know this.

  4. Quartermaster

    February 4, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Biden has no right to offer the Russians anything. He is doing nothing more than attempting to repeat Chamberlain’s shame in Munich.

    Tamerlane, what people in DOD think doesn’t much mater. The military potential of Ukraine is increasing as Russia’s decreases. There is a real possibility that Russia gets thrown completely out of Ukraine, including Crimea.

  5. Paul Hoffman

    February 5, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Too late for a negotiation

  6. Question Authority

    February 5, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Malik, you must be seriously joking or on serious drugs. Why would Ukraine give up 1/5th of its land and in doing so give Russia an even larger base from which to launch further attacks on Ukraine and Moldova? The lack of any strong world response of annexation of parts of Georgia and the 2014 strike into Ukraine only gave Russia more impetus to act as it has now. Had nations rallied earlier and more strongly to Ukraine’s defense (meaning also acted PRIOR to Russia’s invasion) and not expected it to be plowed under in days, we would not be here.

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