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Paul Pillar about possible disagreements on the terms of peace in Ukraine

11.04.2022
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https://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/coming-dissent-over-ukraine%E2%80%99s-peace-terms-201663

Whenever serious negotiations draw near, divisions between Ukrainians and their foreign supporters over what peace terms should be considered acceptable will become increasingly apparent and will undermine the international unity that has hitherto been in the face of Russian aggression. The lack of consensus that already existed among Ukraine's supporters on some contentious issues between Russia and Ukraine was exacerbated by the war itself and the way the Russian military conducted it.

It would be difficult to formulate a simple and coherent statement about the purpose of the Ukrainian side in this war. Some of the most minimalistic statements coming from Ukraine itself are about saving the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainians and not living under Russian dictatorship. Elsewhere in the West, there was no shortage of tougher statements that Russia "must be defeated on the battlefield" and that Ukraine "must win."

The acceptability of specific peace conditions is a question that, first of all, Ukrainians should decide among themselves. President Volodymyr Zelensky has shown leadership in inspiring national resistance against the Russians, but his political skills will be put to the test when he takes a stance on negotiated peace that will, like almost any stance in this situation, anger his compatriots. And those who believe that he is not ending a highly destructive war fast enough, and other Ukrainians who think that he is too much inferior to the Russian regime. He may well face the wrath of both.

Most Western conceptions of a possible treaty may imply a desire for better peace terms, but at the risk of prolonging the war, while preferences within Ukraine may be less radical. There is a temptation, reflected in the strongest rhetoric coming from the West, to fight this war to the last Ukrainian. It would be morally wrong. It would also be unwise for other reasons than not to prolong the suffering of innocent Ukrainians. Considering the costs Russia has incurred in this war, and the lessons this experience teaches to any current or future Russian decision maker, the threshold for Russia to ever invade Ukraine again is now much higher than it was two months ago.

 

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