Re: The New Turn in Ukraine: Putin’s War Becomes Biden’s War


Marv Gandall
 

Thanks to Michael K. for referring us to the Foreign Affairs article by the well-connected and influential US strategist Richard Haass. Haass has been, among other things, a senior official in the State department and bipartisan advisor to both Republican and Democratic administrations.
 
His article is a sophisticated rendering of the various scenarios and policy alternatives facing both the US/NATO/Ukraine axis and the Russians in the current conflict.

However, I do not agree with Michael that Haass' view "seems to come closer to the actual US view and behaviour" than the current direction of the Biden administration.

In contradiction to its escalated rhetoric and support of Ukraine, Hass counsels that "success for now could consist of a winding down of hostilities, with Russia possessing no more territory than it held before the recent invasion and continuing to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction...things would stand more or less where they did before the invasion, with Russia occupying Crimea and exercising de facto control through its proxies over parts of the Donbas. Such a future would come about if Ukraine clawed back some of what Russia has gained over the past two months but if neither Ukraine nor Russia were able to achieve decisive military progress.”
 
He wants the administration to play the long game because “in the near term, Western success will be highly unlikely to involve a peace treaty, a true end to the conflict, or regime change in Russia. His sales pitch to his US and NATO colleagues is that “over time, the West could employ a mix of sanctions and diplomacy in an effort to achieve a full Russian military withdrawal from Ukraine. Such success would be far from perfect, just preferable to the alternatives."
 
"This outcome could be acceptable to Ukraine, which has a powerful incentive to end a war that has caused so much death and destruction. It would be peace at a price, but potentially a price worth paying. And in principle, Putin, too, might support such an outcome, judging that there was little to gain from continuing the fight. If, as part of this scenario, Ukraine agreed not to join NATO, he might also calculate he could persuade many Russians that the country had won the war, even if it didn’t acquire much territory. If such a consensus emerged, it would be one worth supporting."

Agreed. 

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