Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a hero and an inspiration for all who love freedom. Since then he has been Wladimir Putin invaded his country. Now he may have demonstrated another impressive side of his personality – that of a shrewd tactician and shrewd negotiator.
or in his statement on Tuesday – that he can see his country accepts that it will not join NATO and that Crimea could remain Russian and recognition of the Donbass region as independent could be negotiated – he may have the way to the rescue found for Ukraine and her 44 million people.
For weeks people have been asking what Putin wants, how far he wants to go and what he would be satisfied with. These are questions that indicate that Putin’s motivation for attacking Ukraine was unclear. But even before the war began, Putin had some key demands. The first of these was that NATO and Ukraine stop courting each other.
In Putin’s view, this could be achieved in one of three ways – by Russia taking control of Ukraine, by NATO blocking Ukraine’s membership, or by Ukraine withdrawing its bid. Options two and three were off the table. NATO’s open-door policy meant they would not be blocked. Withdrawing the application at this stage appeared to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty. Which, from Putin’s point of view, left only option one.
That meant that when he went in, he intended to go all the way. Those who thought he would settle for Crimea and that Pulling out of the Donbass region and then withdrawing without getting a NATO guarantee was naive. Just as Hitler pretended that ethnic Germans were mistreated in neighboring countries, this was Putin’s pretext for invading Ukraine, not the reason.
His clear intention from the start was to continue the war until he got what he wanted.
As the invasion began, we learned two things – the Russian military is not as fearsome as predicted and instead had to rely on terrifyingly destructive heavy weaponry; and the Ukrainians are incredibly brave, despite being completely inferior.
And we’ve also had confirmation that Putin is willing to play the nuclear card if his back is against the wall — even if at that stage he’s only threatening to unleash devastating radiation from Chernobyl.
Of course, it is the fear of nuclear war that is keeping the West, led by the US, in check. Significant aid has been provided to Ukraine, but not the no-fly zone it is desperate for.
So Putin knows he has a free hand in Ukraine. But he also needs to know that there are people in the West who would like to take on him – and that he would almost certainly expect terrible retribution if he set foot across the border into a NATO country.
That should be some consolation for the very nervous Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, but as things stand there is little consolation for those outside the NATO blanket – like Georgia and Moldova, or even Sweden and Finland – who have been told , unbelievable that they too will face the wrath of Russia if they take any steps to join NATO.
All of this means that there are only two likely outcomes to the conflict – Russia’s continued inexorable advance to the point of conquering Ukraine, but with far more death and destruction than anyone anticipated; or negotiate a solution where Ukraine agrees to withdraw its bid for NATO membership and Russia takes its troops home.
Putin has indicated that he would agree to this – if you can believe a proven liar and undisputed war criminal – provided he retains control of Crimea and Donbass independence is recognized.
He would also presumably expect the West to withdraw its brutal sanctions program – probably the main factor in bringing Putin to the negotiating table.
Ukraine’s sovereignty would be restored and it could seek rapprochement with the EU. That could hardly be seen as a threat to Russia unless those who want the EU to create a European Defense Force get their way.
Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like the deal of the century, and President Zelenskyy might have a hard time selling it to the Ukrainian population, 70 percent of whom still support NATO entry, as anything other than a form of surrender.
Putin seems to literally get away with murder. But on the other hand, many, many lives will be spared. We must remember that only Ukraine is negotiating with Russia.
We admire them, we applaud them and we give them as much help as we can, barring a military confrontation with Russia – but essentially they are on their own.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/inspirational-hero-must-now-be-cunning-as-a-fox-41466505.html Inspirational hero must now be smart as a fox