Have they any idea what they are talking about?
Without getting into the minutiae, it seems to me that Russia has concluded the West is "agreement incapable" - ie it cannot be trusted. Unless Russia is under a degree of distress that is not apparent to me, a ceasefire on current lines is thus unlikely. It simply allows a vengeful Ukraine time to reorganise and rearm. Nope. I think Russia is now playing for keeps in what for them is an existential conflict, though they do appear to be trying to keep the international temperature low. Ukraine as it exists within its current borders, regime etc is history IMHO. The only issue is timing - and of course how much money and lives it takes to get to that point. And if we can avoid MAD or similar escaltion before that occurs.
And please remember that this war is an episode in a global restructuring and Russia is doubly not therefore inclined to compromise. But then on the same score neither is the USA. So everyone ups the ante the whole time.
Dangerous time. peace depends on the USA calling it a day. Russia would do well to give it an exit route - but for the life of me I cannot see where that might be. Ukraine - and thus the USA - is facing another Saigon or Kabul moment.
This is perhaps the clearest and most well thought out analysis of what true negotiations are and why they simply won’t work under present circumstances. If only Washington would come to its senses.
Thanks for this. You detail the mess quite well, and I'd especially underline the delusional nature of western leadership that believes the nonsense they read in the NY Times and WaPo. They psyop themselves. This is what incompetence, arrogance and lack of character lead to.
And all this nonsense is fed them directly from the entirely politicized and weaponized intelligence apparatus. Western leaders can't get honest information even if they wanted it, though they clearly don't anyway as we can see from their ongoing out of touch assessments. Michael McFaul -- and his indescribably blinkered takes -- comes to mind. Of course Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland and the rest of the neocon squad are no better. Truly pathetic.
It seems the Kremlin understands that any negotiations at this point must be directly between Russia and the US. That creates as many problems as it solves. NATO will in the end do as the US does, but the US negotiating on behalf of NATO openly undermines it as an alliance. The specific issues of Ukraine and Poland in this theoretical context are too complex for a comment.
The US, especially the current administration, will not want to negotiate with Russia as an equal. And even if a presidential administration were to do so, the likelihood of a treaty being ratified by the Senate is low. Which means the negotiations are pointless from the Russian perspective. This doesn’t mean that no agreement on the particular issue of Ukraine and US support for it can’t be reached. Only that if negotiations and an agreement happen they will not look like the US media and political statements portray them now. However, absent a domestic political upheaval in the US, Biden can’t really do something like this prior to winning a second term due to domestic political considerations.
Which leaves everyone with little to do but continue fighting until facts on the ground either make negotiations unnecessary or unavailable. The most likely scenario to my mind becomes a collapse of the Ukrainian state, a new government and direct negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. That will essentially require Ukraine kicking the US and NATO out of the country. It’s an improbable scenario.
Would that Western media had this level of depth an clarity in their analysis.
The military operation will make the proposed negotiations moot before Ukraine/NATO can agreee on the shape of the conference table.
An excellent article, thank you. Just to add a little to the thrust of your argument, it is becoming apparent that Russia is now resigned to the continuation of enmity with the West, but increasingly does not care.
Just superb write up on how difficult negations can be in the case of Ukraine. Someone below mentions how the West continues to "double down" in this conflict even as it becomes obvious Ukraine is losing the war and the West has only limited military supplies left....... plus populaces are getting restless regarding support for Ukraine.
I had previously read some background on the Minsk Agreements (from Western think tank perspectives) but given the fact, now well known, that these agreements were just to give Ukraine more time to build up its military I am certain Russia will be reluctant to agree to anything with the West. Consequently, for me, this means Russia will pursue a military solution leading to a situation where they hold all the cards in any "treaty" that will be forthcoming. The Russians have been steadily building up their forces and armaments over the past several months and I think once they have exhausted Ukraines ability to fight (and NATO's supplies) , they will launch an offensive and quickly take AND HOLD territory beyond the Oblasts now part of Russia. I would take Odessa if I were Putin and seal Ukraines fate.
Yes, this article helped me understand why no settlement. Thanks.
I have seen no evidence that the West is seeking a negotiated exit from Ukraine.
Rather, they continue to double down.
Only total surrender of Ukraine failed state, the end of Nato, the end of Both EU and the euro, the expulsion of US troops of Europe (AMI GO HOME) will do. Then European (including new smaller Ukraine and Russia can talk and restart their relations, organize their own security), as it is now clear that there is only one ennemy of Europe in the World: the anglos, five eyes axe + US 4th reich.
Of course I give 0.0 chance of that option to ever happen without a nuclear war and and a RU CHI victory (also against Japan + S Korea).
It will be a global South pyric victory, billions will die in the North, south hemisphere will be a good place to move(and asap) when we will approach the final point.
Always a pleasure to follow your thinking. Although I suspect I can predict your answer, I am nonetheless curious about your thoughts on one issue: Donald Trump would (he says) stop the war in 24 hours. What is your opinion on this?
Good Piece: Reading this allowed me to remember the "shape of the table".
I think that folks have to assiduously remember time horizons. I figure that it will take another year for things to get bad enough for actual negotiations to take place, then another six months to actually sort out the starting point.
I am guessing (with a goodly chance of being completely off base) that nothing will start until after November 2024. Who knows though.
With respect to pundits, and why they favour what they do at a certain point in time, remember that their collective opinion isn’t logical but psychological.
When the war started the plan was for the good guys (Ukrainians) to launch an offensive, liberate the Donbas and then continue all the way to Moscow (at least by political means, if not necessarily military).
The analogy for that would be D-day and the subsequent US capturing of Berlin. (While most of them know that factually the Berlin part didn’t actually happen, if you ask them what they feel happened, they feel that WWII ended when the marines raised the Stars and Stripes over Hitlers bunker and brought him to justice.)
A year and a half later it’s becoming annoyingly obvious that will not happen. Then what? They. Don’t. Know.
That creates a lot of anxiety, because if you are a pundit, the one thing in the world you are absolutely sure of is that you KNOW. If you don’t know you just don’t have what it takes.
So they reached out for a new historical analogy and happened to grab Korea. This is a war, and a part of the world, that they know jack sht about, but there was a WAR, the war was FROZEN and then there was a DEMILITARISED ZONE. If you don’t emphasise the ‘demilitarised’ part to much, since it makes you sound kinda Russian, it all fits perfectly, doesn’t it?
When the psychology is in place, it immediately turns social. Even if you unexpectedly knew that the war in Ukraine is nothing like the Korean War, and Russia is not north korea, would you come out and say that just to be made an outcast? No you wouldn’t, because if you had that kind of personality you would never have become a mainstream pundit in the first place.
Thank you so much for this article, Aurelien.
I would have laughed my head off at this slapstick comedy of incompetence, if it wasn't for this having quite dire realworld consequences. I can't play out which ones exactly but I am confident that it won't involve rebuilding the welfare state with great education, healthcare and infracstructure that we used to have until the neoliberal turn in the mid-80s
This is a fantastic analysis. Really excellent.
The final paragraph is a particular masterpiece.
Why would anyone negotiate with the west out of choice? Hard to see why.