Paths To Peace in Ukraine

Paths To Peace in Ukraine


Today, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for proposing a peace proposal to resolve the violence in Ukraine. He recommended that Ukraine give up some of its sovereignty in order for Putin to salvage face and put an end to the war dogs.

Macron's attempts to locate a "off-ramp" for Russia, according to Ukrainian President Zelensky, are doomed since Russia does not know it needs to back out.

If all else was equal, it would presumably stay there...

For the Russians, a dilemma has developed. Putin appears to be in poor health. In fact,  very sick.

Ukrainian news has played a recording of a Russian oligarch saying that Putin has blood cancer. Putin’s recent symptoms — limping, gripping furniture for support, a puffy face, awkward movements, a trembling hand — could be confirmation of this condition.

Perhaps Putin is putting pressure on himself to end the situation.

So here's a question for some of the gathering MEDIUM minds: what is the best and most acceptable option for all parties to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict?

Let us remember, lest we become swamped by negativity, that all sides are open to some degree of peace ideas. Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine were conducted on the Belarus–Ukraine border in February and March 2022. They were cynical propaganda maneuvers, but the actual thing had to come at some time.

Even Putin appears to be going in this direction. He might have decided to do a drum-roll for further devastation in his address on May 9th, but instead he delivered a calm, 'regular' lecture. As natural as one can be while bulking up at a podium in bullet-proof vests.

The man is frightened. He's not feeling well. He is slipping away (winners do not threaten nuclear war).

Most of the coverage of the Ukraine-Russia conflict has been limited to articles on who is winning, whose technologies are dominating, and what the fight means in terms of drones vs. tanks. This is exactly as it should be.

Compassion and empathy are also used to compensate the social and economic expenses.

However, one element that appears to be lacking among critics is the end-game for the war: what method should be used to establish peace?

Of course, there's always the risk that one side or the other may give up. However, the war's dynamics continue to support the necessity for greater combat:

Since Russia's incursion on February 24, more over 8 million people have been domestically displaced in Ukraine;

The civilian death toll is astounding and difficult to estimate, with one mass grave alone housing 9,000 people.

Ukraine claims that over 21,000 Russian servicemen have been killed.

Putin offered no meaningful intentions for action in his May Day speech, other than to continue bombing and murdering.

Zelensky has stated unequivocally that Ukraine would not yield any land.

The Russians, for their part, aim to maintain what they have: the Russian-occupied area of Kherson in Ukraine is apparently going to urge President Vladimir Putin to integrate it into Russia by the end of the year; and

Both nations' economy have stalled, adding to the demand for 'winning.'

With all of this said, it is apparent that "peace" may remain off the table for the foreseeable future.

But, if Putin is sick and tired of losing, what if there was a way forward? Isn't it worth the effort to come up with directions?

For an agreement to be achieved, at least two requirements must be met:

1. In general, if both parties can receive something, peace is more likely. This is most likely the key to resolving the disagreement.

2. Serious peace efforts will begin when all parties recognize that they have endured enough sorrow.

Finally, for an alternative to have a chance of success, it simply needs to be less unpleasant than prolonging the war.

We don't know what Putin intended to gain from the conflict since all we have is guesswork.

Zelensky claims that Ukraine has been around for 30 years and that he does not want to spend the next ten years fighting.

Can both sides contribute?

Ukraine, for example, may find it hard to exist without a portion of its Eastern Region, or to do as Macron advises and give up some sovereignty, but this appears to be asking for the negation of a nation. Instead, what if (say) Ukraine agreed to provide access to Russian language rights, particularly for inhabitants in eastern Ukraine?

In exchange, Russia might declare "task accomplished" and propose a peace treaty. A shared opportunity might be quick access to each other's economic market.

Could this be supplemented by the establishment of an alternative international institution(s) capable of launching an immediate response to aggression, thereby closing a window of conquest? We purposefully avoid using the phrase "NATO." While many believe that Ukraine's possible NATO membership triggered the conflict, I believe it was only an excuse by Putin. What frightened Putin was Ukraine's economic prosperity, which was practically on Russia's doorstep. In any case, remove NATO off the table and provide Russia with an economic stimulus through Ukraine.

One stumbling block might be Ukraine's (understandable) desire for Russia to accept war responsibility. Russia will not accept responsibility for what they have done to its neighbor. While this would be fantastic in an ideal world, it will be one of the most difficult pills to swallow. Following WWI, Germany discovered the 'war guilt' clause to be a ready-made tool for driving anger that contributed to the emergence of the Nazis.

War guilt is most likely out of the question.

And, whatever of his intentions, Putin will go down in history as the guy who permanently split Ukraine from Russia.

He also brought NATO together. The West was pulled together. And assisted Ukraine in preparing for whatever happens next. Man was brilliant...but not for Russia.

However, if you were compelled to provide some recommendations about what that "Path To Peace" would entail, it could be beneficial to all parties. Who knows what the next spectacular breakthrough will be? After all, we've seen some brilliant and correct analyses of the war's MEDIUM. Can we do the same for the Peace Path?