After the NATO Summit 2023 in Vilnius it became apparent that NATO countries, their non-bloc allies and G7 partners have no common vision of how to end the war in Ukraine. Leaders of democratic states failed to reach agreement on a political solution: “to invite Ukraine to join NATO after the war,” and in fact reproduced the MAP mechanism in a new formula. The 11th paragraph of the Communiqué states that NATO countries will “regularly assess the progress” of Ukraine’s reforms towards future membership “through an adapted Annual National Program” and will issue an invitation when “Allies agree and the conditions are met.”
At the “historic summit,” NATO again avoided clear wording on Ukraine’s membership:
- in violation of the Budapest Memorandum’s guarantees of protection to Ukraine in exchange for Kyiv’s giving up the world’s third largest nuclear capability;
- despite the recognition of the “postponed” decisions of the Bucharest Summit as unproductive, because it was after them that Russia began its invasion of the territory of two “not accepted” members at that time: Georgia and Ukraine;
- carefully avoiding violation of the “red lines set by the Kremlin” regarding the inadmissibility of any steps towards rapprochement between Ukraine and NATO, despite statements about the independence of the Alliance’s decisions from Russia’s veto.
Some analysts believe that in this way, countries are trying to avoid potential accusations of increasing the risk of escalation and leave the door open for possible negotiations with Russia.
At the same time, the Alliance has an “ally’s dilemma”, i.e. the simultaneous fear of being drawn into a conflict that is not in its own interests and being left without adequate help from allies at a critical moment.
The world of international relations is cynical and pragmatic. Arguments that are short-term in their consequences and obvious to voters are considered more weighty than the long-term and variable prospects of the results of inaction.
If we follow this logical framework, the key points of the Kremlin’s “strategic failure” have been achieved:
- Russia’s military power has been weakened;
- Ukraine has been assigned the role of the main actor in countering the Russian army;
- the risks of a direct clash between Russia and NATO have been minimized;
- the threat of escalation with the Kremlin has been reduced.
All of these results were achieved without excessive financial costs on the part of, for example, the United States.
However, this does not stop the largest war on the European continent in the last 80 years, but perhaps only stimulates its prolongation.
How should the war end?
As Ukraine continues to fight back against the Russian invaders, Western politicians are discussing scenarios for ending the war and their consequences.
A recent report by analysts at the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs warned the international community against the temptation to “sacrifice Ukraine to save it from an even greater conflict” and against pushing Kyiv to a hasty and compromise truce with Russia based on concessions to Moscow that would “effectively appease Russia, betray Ukraine and endanger Europe.”
Persistent calls for a ceasefire or a “negotiated settlement” to end the fighting without addressing its root cause – Russia’s desire to destroy Ukraine – will lead to “nothing more than rewarding the aggressor and punishing the victim.”
Fallacy 1: All wars end at the negotiating table
This statement is true, but it does not apply to wars where the stakes are absolute, as was the case in the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, and World War II where an armed conflict usually ends in victory for one belligerent and defeat for the other. For Ukraine, the current war is undoubtedly a struggle for survival; for Russia, it is a war to impose Russian civilization, which its leadership believes to have roots in Ukraine. Moreover, despite the absence of any threat to its sovereignty, the Kremlin is conducting hostilities as if it were an all-out war. Under these circumstances, negotiations begin only after the old regime, which has been defeated and removed, is replaced by a new one. For example, Franco-German reconciliation would have been unthinkable if the Nazis had remained in power.
Fallacy 2: Ukraine should concede territory in exchange for peace
Any territorial concessions by Ukraine in a peace agreement with Russia would be a reward for crimes and aggression. They will encourage Russia to attack other European countries.
Fallacy 3: Ukraine should adopt neutrality
Calls for Ukraine to become ‘neutral’ because this will remove Russia’s incentive for aggression ignore the fact that Ukraine was already neutral when first attacked in 2014. Implementation of such proposals would expose Ukraine to future attacks that would further threaten European security.
Fallacy 4: Russian security concerns must be respected
Calls to treat as legitimate the ‘security concerns’ raised by Russia, and to account for these in a future settlement of the war in Ukraine, disregard the fact that Moscow’s requirements are fundamentally incompatible with European security. Russia’s concerns largely reflect the paranoia of a leadership that, in an effort to enhance its own security, is paradoxically making itself increasingly dangerous by intimidating its neighbors, Western partners, and its own citizens. Such demands by Moscow cannot be met without compromising the security of Ukraine and other countries in the region.
Fallacy 5: Russian defeat is more dangerous than Russian victory
The fear of destabilizing Russia or even causing its collapse should not deter the West from pressing for a Ukraine’s victory. To do otherwise would be to protect Russia and Putin from the consequences of their actions in Ukraine and, for that matter, increase Russia’s instability in the long run.
Fallacy 6: Russia’s defeat in Ukraine will lead to greater instability in Russia
Concerns about Russia’s future ignore the factors of the present: a neo-totalitarian system, leaders who claim that Russia’s salvation depends on the destruction of Ukraine as a state and nation. Propaganda and coercion are used as tools of a protracted war against Ukraine and the West. Supporting such a regime will not only prolong the war in Ukraine, but also risks leading to a deeper and more prolonged brutalization of the Russian society.
Fallacy 7: This is costing too much, and the West needs to restore economic ties with Russia
The financial costs of pushing back against Russian aggression in Ukraine are high, but entirely reasonable given the size of Western economies. Failure to act would leave Europe at risk of further Russian expansion, attack and economic blackmail, ultimately costing the West much more over the long term.
Fallacy 8: Ukraine’s pursuit of justice hinders peace
Many believe that for Ukraine to insist on judicial redress is unrealistic and should not be a precondition of a peace settlement. However, apart from the moral imperative, the reality is that peace will not be achieved justice – in the form of trials and reparations – is served. “Atrocities are a central part of the Kremlin’s tactics in Ukraine, as was also the case in Chechnya and Syria. Unless the pattern of impunity is broken, Russia will continue to perpetrate direct and proxy violence globally. Instead, restricting Ukraine’s access to justice is contrary to international law and could send a strong signal to repressive regimes around the world.
Fallacy 9: This war is not our fight, and there are more important global problems
The transatlantic community cannot allow the Moscow regime to make imperial aggression and annexation an acceptable form of politics. If Western countries do not take the war in Ukraine as their own fight to achieve a Russian defeat, there is a risk that we will have a new world order dictated by oil thieves in the future. And this will affect everyone without exception.
Last year, at the G20 summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi announced his “formula for peace,” emphasizing Ukraine’s exclusive right to determine the scenario of the future, because it is on its territory that an unprovoked bloody war is taking place, and it is Ukrainians who are dying trying to protect their homes from Russian invaders. The 5th point of Zelenskyi’s peace plan provides for the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity within the 1991 borders, and the 6th point provides for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the cessation of hostilities.
The resolution of the Chatham House analysts contains words that are difficult to interpret ambiguously: – The only outcome to the war that can safeguard the future security of Europe is a convincing Ukrainian victory – hence, Western military support to Kyiv should be redoubled before it is too late.
In Vilnius, the international community decided to avoid a decision on Ukraine, but tried to mitigate the awkwardness of the situation with new military aid packages.
Well, between the promise of “someday” becoming a member of the club of countries “that potentially have something to defend themselves” and weapons “here and now,” Ukraine chooses the latter. For Ukrainians, it is a matter of saving lives during a bloody battle that they did not choose and that was imposed on them.
Source: The Gaze