An accumulation of the terrible compromises forced by the devastation of each war makes contemplating an ending seem like a betrayal.
Obviously, Russia’s overthrow of the world order with its invasion of Ukraine cannot be rewarded with concessions. Consequently, the risk of an unchecked nuclear conflict increases the longer the war lasts.
Ukraine cannot cede large parts of its territory. Even if that were the case, the overwhelming majority of experience suggests that Moscow would simply come back for more when convenient.
Vladimir Putin is willing to endanger the planet by using nuclear brinkmanship instead of giving up lands he illegally seized. He is accused of turning Russia into a rogue state.
A recent series of setbacks has propelled it up through the indiscriminate use of drones.
However, it is his imposition of martial law in the regions he claimed to be usurping last month that signals his real desperation to achieve his goals. The decree opens another dark and uncertain chapter for the bereaved people in Ukraine.
Attacks on civilian areas are intensifying, and attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure have also intensified. This is especially cruel given the impending arrival of a freezing cold winter. It is uncomfortable to think that we are still reduced to conjectures about Moscow’s actual propensity to deploy strategic nuclear weapons.
NATO and the US have made it clear – any reprisals in the event of a Russian tactical nuclear attack must be open. But as commentators point out, this too is an untested threat.
The option of military action was always intended as a deterrent. What analysts want to know now is what happens when deterrence fails.
Understandably, the mention of a trip to Moscow is immediately followed by accusations of appeasement. Putin’s defeat is in everyone’s interests.
However, could it also be harmful to padlock the door to discussion, or to discard every possibility of diplomacy, however slight? It can be argued that return channels have always had a place in conflict.
Meanwhile, the people of Ukraine continue to pay a heavy price as Putin destroys their lives.
Initially, he entertained the mistaken notion that he would clean up Ukraine in a few weeks. How wrong he was.
His attack on the cities is another vain attempt to break the will of a strong people.
The tight military controls imposed on visits to Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia added additional trauma to those already trapped.
It speaks volumes about the kind of “big lie” that Putin peddled, insisting his forces be garlanded with flowers and hailed as the liberators of the zones. The real truth of this recent descent into darkness – a regime of rolling terror with routine arrests and torture – is that it was his only way to stick to the zones.
But if war is our constant reminder that power attracts pathological personalities, the question remains: can anything be done to bring about peace?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/uncomfortable-guesswork-as-to-how-far-putin-will-go-42080723.html Uncomfortable guesses about how far Putin will go