A ‘Compromise Peace’ for Ukraine: Could It Happen? The most useless thing anyone can do during a crisis is to lament about what might have been.
That is especially true if one finds themselves in a starring role at the center of whatever crisis is unfolding.
Usually, a crisis manager can only help to address the most immediate, demanding problems in a crisis and work their way down the line until some resolution occurs.
Yet, when it comes to the Russo-Ukraine War, the United States has the unfortunate position of being both heavily involved in the conflict while at the same time being an observer on the periphery.
As it stands, the war looks to officially be at a stalemate.
Although, the ant’s view of the war may appear different. The Ukrainians continue seeking a decisive breakthrough in the long Russian defensive lines in the east. Their NATO allies insist that Ukraine is still a viable force because they continue mounting offensives.
Skeptics, meanwhile, rightly argue that Ukraine is running low on manpower, resources, and funds to continue fighting the war in the manner that they have thus far. And as the Ukrainians lose their offensive capabilities through attrition, it appears as though the Russians may gain significant advantages by default.
Regardless of what actually transpires next, the risk of escalation hangs over the conflict like a thermonuclear Damocles’ Sword. Whatever their reasons for fighting this war, both NATO and the Russians have lost the plotline.
Both sides are suffering staggering losses and neither side appears willing to countenance a compromise.
If only American leaders had seen the conflict for what it was: an internal feud between two wings of the Slavic people. Such a war could never end decisively for one side and could only ever be ended in a deal. Yet, American and NATO leaders refused to see this reality and chose instead to mindlessly feed Ukraine a toxic brew of hope and lethal aid that have failed to turn the war in Ukraine’s favor.
No amount of US military aid or funding will flip the tables on Russia, sadly.
A Ukraine Deal is Needed
But this is precisely the moment a compromise is required.
Because as the war becomes a possible stalemate, either side—likely the Russians—will attempt to alter the balance in their favor potentially with nuclear weapons, as former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has already warned countless times in the last year on social media.
Avoiding an escalation into a nuclear third world war should be paramount for both sides’ leaders.
Thus far, it has not been. The danger to ordinary people globally, therefore, is profound.
Even if the nuclear genie manages to remain sealed in its radioactive lamp, however, the fact remains that the longer the war drags on—even if it remains in a stalemate—the likelier that grave dislocations to the world economy, such as with grain shipments emanating from Ukraine, will be permanently damaging.
Not only is Ukraine’s capability to wage war being degraded the longer that the war drags on (and Ukraine obsessively pushes itself to launch offensive after offensive), but the primary backer of Ukraine’s war effort, the United States, is undergoing a transformative presidential election cycle.
Should either major Republican Party candidate, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis or former President Donald J. Trump, win the White House—a very real possibility, given the sclerotic nature of the US economy under President Joe Biden’s leadership—a major reassessment of US aid to Ukraine will be undertaken. Whatever is ultimately decided, the seemingly limitless support for Kyiv’s war effort against Russia will not continue in the way it has operated under the Biden Administration.
Both DeSantis and Trump agree that some form of a peace settlement needs to occur. Indeed, this was the stance of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, both when he initially ran for president in 2016 as well as in the aftermath of Ukraine’s successful defense of Kyiv in the first year of the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine.
There is no way, sadly, that the Ukrainians will ever be able to dislodge the Russians from their fortified positions in the generally Russian-speaking eastern portions of Ukraine that they’ve held at least since 2014. Meanwhile, any serious Ukrainian attempt to recapture the strategically vital Crimean Peninsula will end in failure for Ukraine and/or in a tactical nuclear weapons strike by Russia to repel the Ukrainian forces.
A deal that separates the pro-NATO western portion of Ukraine away from the Russian-controlled eastern and Crimean regions has always been essential for the survival of an independent Ukrainian state. Such a deal, though, has been fleeting.
There are many reasons behind this lack of a deal, despite a compromise being in the interests of all parties involved with the conflict.
A Conflict of Mass Delusions
The time for Zelenskyy to have gotten such a deal would have been after his forces successfully rebuffed the Russian invasion. Yet, according to several sources—notably former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett—great pressure was applied to Zelenskyy by the Anglo-American leaders to prevent him from seeking a peaceful settlement to the conflict with Russia.
Since that time, the Ukrainians shifted their war strategy from one of defense to one of offense…and that’s where they’ve run into problems.
For their part, Western leaders have intoxicated themselves with delusions that the Russian military was set to collapse. When that did not happen, the narrative shifted to the regime of Vladimir Putin was going to be overthrown. While threats to Putin and his regime are ever-present in wartime Russia, the strongman has weathered every storm he has been subjected to thus far.
Now, there are endless rumors that Russia itself will collapse and break down into its constituent parts. Even if they did happen, the threat to the world from an internally destabilized, nuclear-armed Russia would likely be greater than whatever threat Putin poses.
Besides, each one of the assumptions of most Western leaders has been categorically proven to be false. Russia isn’t collapsing and the Putin regime is strengthened. Moscow is adapting—and they are hitting back.
Now that the war has dragged out, Ukraine’s weaknesses have become pronounced, and the Russians are preparing for another round of intensive fighting.
Peace, therefore, will be harder to achieve. In fact, it might be completely off-the-table, since Moscow likely believes that they will obtain the victory they’ve long sought through attrition of Ukraine’s dwindling military.
Under these conditions, then, the likelihood of a deal is low. By the time a possible new US president is sworn in, the prospects that they will be able to preside over a peace deal that preserves the core Ukrainian state will be low.
The Next President Will Never Get a Deal
More likely, if there is a new American leader elected in 2024, that man will have to contend with the daunting prospects of either deploying US forces into Ukraine to deter a full-blown Russian march on Western Ukraine or they will likely have to ignore the renewed Russian offensive and watch as Russia’s military runs roughshod over Western Ukraine.
A deal was needed eight months ago. And while we can all pine for a deal in which the pro-NATO Western portion of Ukraine is preserved as a sovereign, neutral state with Eastern Ukraine and Crimea remaining in Russian hands, this prospect is very unlikely now that the Russians are totally militated against Ukraine and their Western backers.
A deal is also impossible, with so many Western leaders blinkered by their own inaccurate understanding of the conflict as somehow “winnable” at the tactical level by the declining Ukrainian forces.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
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