War in Ukraine may end in a deal, but not any time soon

The inevitable outcome may be a compromise, but as the balance shifts there is more fighting to be done before either side will accept one

SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. 22. May 2022

It is the greatest triumph of an underdog since David slew Goliath: Ukraine’s defeat of Russia at Kyiv and Kharkiv have revealed Russia as a paper tiger, the collapse of Mr Putin’s army is inevitable and Ukraine can win the war if only the Western alliance holds its nerve.

Or is that nothing but a fantasy, out of touch with the cold realities of the balance of power, Russia’s nuclear status and its battlefield successes on the southern front?

Isn’t the inevitable outcome of the war a grotty compromise that preserves Ukrainian sovereignty, but cedes Russia some territory? And if so, shouldn’t the West push Kyiv to accept that reality before more lives are lost?

That was the argument laid out in an editorial in the New York Times – sparking uproar in Kyiv amid growing fears about the resolve of elites in both the United States and Europe to see the conflict through.

The piece, attributed to the paper’s Editorial Board, argued that Russia is too strong for Ukraine to defeat decisively on the battlefield; that the realistic outcome of the war will involve territorial concessions from Ukraine; and that President Joe Biden should make this clear to Volodymyr Zelensky sooner rather than later – including by placing clear limits on US support for Kyiv.

Ukrainian servicemen walk in the forest near a recently retaken village, north of Kharkiv, on May 15
Ukrainian servicemen walk in the forest near a recently retaken village, north of Kharkiv, on May 15 CREDIT: Mstyslav Chernov/AP

Despite Ukraine’s stunning successes around Kyiv and Kharkiv, “a decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal,” the newspaper wrote.

Ultimately, it said: “It will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.”

Officials in Kyiv reacted with unconcealed fury.

The arguments laid out in the editorial reflect a debate that raged in Washington foreign policy circles in the run up to war.

Then, most experts assumed Ukraine was certain to lose even with Western military assistance.

Forcing a diplomatic solution that saved lives would therefore be preferable to risking a US military confrontation with Russia – even if it meant pushing the Ukrainians to accept unpalatable concessions on the stalled Minsk peace agreements, some argued.

It was a view with traction in Washington.

Joe Biden now appears to have thrown his weight behind the previously unthinkable goal of a Ukrainian victory – pushing through vast financial assistance bills and green-lighting deliveries of increasingly powerful weaponry.

It is a goal backed by allies including Britain and Poland.

But the New York Times article shows elements of the American establishment are still not convinced. And they are not alone.

Earlier this month Mr Zelensky hinted, with some irritation, that Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, had asked him to give up land in exchange for peace.

Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, and Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, have also recently talked of seeking a “ceasefire” – something that would leave Russian troops on Ukrainian territory and increase the chances of Mr Putin retaining captured land during peace talks.

Mr Zelensky has conceded that the war will eventually end with talks – but says he wants Russians out of Ukraine first and has ruled out territorial concessions.

Interestingly, it is not only Ukrainians appalled by the idea of compromise.

One Russian nationalist commentator on the war responding to the New York Times article warned that the suggested settlement would merely allow the West and Ukraine to rearm for another war later. There can be no stopping now, he urged: the war must continue.

That is exactly what Ukrainian officials fear Russia would use a ceasefire for. And many believe there is no reason to stop fighting when they have the upper hand.

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence has publicly asserted that the tide of the war will turn over the summer, and that Ukraine will retake its lost territories.

Perhaps the war will end in some kind of compromise. But there is much more fighting to be done before either side will accept one.

5 comments

  1. The NYT has a long history of treachery to Ukraine. The leftist “intellectuals” on its editorial board seem shy to name themselves. In fact they are left wing equivalent to turds like Carlson, Taylor-Greene etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A few selected comments from Telegraph readers:

    Conor Turvey
    “We need to call out those elements in the US that are so negative on Ukraine. And 99% of the negativity can be traced back to one source – Putin’s puppet – Donald J Trump!!
    Here is Trump Junior”…..
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-jr-ukraine-corrupt-comments-b2068536.html
    And Marjorie Taylor Greene
    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/florida/articles/2022-03-01/gop-torn-as-greene-speaks-to-far-right-amid-putin-chants
    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/02/majorie-taylor-greene-nick-fuentes-speech
    Or Trump himself calling the invasion of Ukraine “Smart”
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-putin-russia-ukraine-invasion-republican-response/

    James Sinclair
    “Americans, always free and easy with other peoples’ territories. They want us to desert and give away Ulster and strip Ukraine of her illegally occupied territories. What if Mexico invaded Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to ‘protect’ Spanish speakers there? That’s what Vlad the Mad says he is doing, protecting Russian speakers.”

    David Meek
    “Western resolve set to be tested as key US and EU figures want Ukraine to cede territory to Russia and make peace’
    No, no, no – as Mrs Thatcher would have said. Accept this and might can be said to be right. But it clearly isn’t.”

    Anthony French
    “Zelinsky – make sure you only listen to the Poles ! Do not give an inch !”

    its not Cricket
    “How about Germany or the US etc offer some of their territory rather than Ukrainians?”

    Ron Thompson
    “If Russia wins territory from this, they’ll re-equip and soon be back to take more of Ukraine.
    They must gain nothing and be seen to lose.
    I didn’t think I’d ever agree with Biden on anything, but I do on this.
    Kick the Russian thugs out of Ukraine or the next land grab won’t be long in coming.”

    t george
    “The legal borders of Ukraine were formally recognized by Russia, the US and UK in 1994. They remain the legal borders.
    If you reward aggression, nuclear blackmail and war crimes, you will get much more of it.”

    Jason McGarry
    “If we let Russia win then we appease (which never ever works!!) and simply end up with a bigger war down the line.
    I think NATO simply has to intervene. It might be under the cover of a UN majority vote (ignore RU veto) in order to secure grain supplies out of Odessa and thereby effectively neutralizing the ability of RU ships to fire missiles into Western Ukraine, or alternatively via a limited air umbrella in the West on ‘humanitarian’ grounds allowing Ukraine to store and move weapons without harassment.”

    Stephen Lord
    “Easy for the lily livered to give up another states land. What these cowards do not understand is the fact the more Putin and his animalistic military gets the more they will want. The only thing Russians understand is death. ….Keep stacking them up…Slava Ukraini.”

    John Eley
    “Key US and EU figures’ should be less generous with someone else’s territory. It is for Ukraine to decide if it wishes to make any compromise, not Macron, or Biden.
    What the West should prioritize is to make sure that war results in the removal of the the Putin regime by the Russian people. Unless they are made to realise that the annexation of the territory of neighbouring countries is not a viable option for them, they will do it again. In other words Russia has to be seen to lose, or pay an unacceptable price for any gain.”

    Laurie Taylor
    “I’ve never believed the line about Crimea and the Donbas being pro-Russian. This is another Russian lie, based on the fake referendums they organised in 2014. And now, after all the killing, raping and destruction that Russia has committed in the last weeks, not to mention the awful stories of human rights violations behind the Russian lines, I’m absolutely sure that whatever level of support they might have had then is now far less.”

    Malcolm Prowle
    “Surely we in the West must do two things
    1. Continue to Degrade the Russian military and economy
    2. Re-arm as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s
    We can have no dealings with Russia again, while Putin is in charge.”

    rob Dixon
    “History demonstrates appeasement never, ever works. A huge number of Ukrainians have been spirited way by the Russians to, if reports are to be believed, gulag type prison camps deep within Russia. Until the many war crimes perpetrated on the orders of Putin and his thuggish colleagues are resolved the only people qualified to discuss this matter are the people with skin in the game, i.e. the Ukrainian people.
    Not Macron, not Biden, not the EU.” 



SCOTT DRIVER 
“No doubt the Italians, Germans and French wanting Zelensky to cede some territory. Zelensky needs to heed his own instincts and the Poles and take back EVERY INCH of Russian occupied Ukraine. 



A Boyle 
“Wow, what an inspired idea ! Let’s reward Russia for it’s brutal and unprovoked (whatever the Kremlin and its apologists try to say) attack on Ukraine, along with mass murder, rape, deportations and God knows what else. 
What then happens in a few years when Putin’s successors have re-armed and re-planned ? Don’t expect any treaty to fix things. They only respect treaties for as long as it suits their purposes.”

    STAR COMMENT:

    Stephen Clues
    “Calling for a “ceasefire to save lives,” is closet appeasement.
    Conceding anything to Putin will turn Ukraine into a vassal state, reward wars of aggression and genocide, restore the Iron Curtain, enslave millions of eastern Europeans and store up further problems for the whole continent down the line.
    The problem of Putin and his barbarous wars MUST be dealt with now, whatever the cost, however long it takes otherwise none of us are safe.
    Whatever in God’s name is the New York Times thinking?”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. D Trump Jr on the aid package :

    “Hard pass. How about we use it to help Americans in need? Or to perhaps secure out border? Maybe get our energy sector going again? Education?

    No, instead we’ll give it to one of the most corrupt countries in the world, where I’m sure most will be looted by corrupt politicians.”

    Thanks for your helpful contribution Trump Jr. You fucking asshole.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “…Russia’s nuclear status and its battlefield successes on the southern front?”

    Nuclear weapons are not in the game, nor will they. And, what successes???

    “The piece, attributed to the paper’s Editorial Board, argued that Russia is too strong for Ukraine to defeat decisively on the battlefield…”

    I guess for the military “experts” in this rag don’t consider Kyiv and Kharkiv decisive defeats. This exposes their utter incompetence once and for all. Enough said…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, I’d tried explaining why Republicans would probably be happy to help Ukraine with fighting, but the filter got me. Suffice to say, America was suffering from severe inflation and high prices BEFORE putin did anything. If the American economy was much stronger, and Republicans were in power here, things would be much different. I’m absolutely certain that Republicans would send troops over for direct combat, and the Russians would be forced out in less than a month.

    Ukraine has been making excellent use of foreign military aid, and weapons donated for the war. You guys have soldiers who probably are as good as any elite American rangers. But also, I believe that God has been helping a lot too, and so all Christians who sympathize for Ukraine should continue praying for more Ukrainian victories.

    God bless Ukraine!

    Liked by 1 person

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