The two authors of the article in the foreign policy magazine – Richard Haass, president emeritus of the American Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) research center and Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the CFR and former director of European affairs at the US National Security Council – see it as follows:
Ukraine and the West are currently trying to advance on an “unsustainable” path, because Ukraine’s war goals simply cannot be achieved.
According to the authors, the goal of expelling Russian forces from all internationally recognized Ukrainian territories, including Crimea, “remains legally and politically unassailable. However, they are strategically unreachable, certainly in the near future, but maybe even beyond that.”
The authors of the article believe that this is precisely why
it is time for Washington to take the initiative and create a new war policy that aligns objectives with available means.
“The United States should begin negotiations with Ukraine and its European partners on a strategy. The focus of this should be on Ukraine’s willingness to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia, and at the same time, they should shift their military emphasis from attack to defense. “Kiev would not give up on restoring territorial integrity or holding Russia economically and legally accountable for its aggression, but they would recognize that in the near future, instead of liberating new territories, the focus would be on defense and repairing the remaining more than 80 percent of the country,” they concluded. the authors of the article.
It is in Ukraine’s interest to have peace, Russia occupied several territories in 2023
It’s easy to imagine the Kremlin rejecting Ukraine’s cease-fire offer, but in that case the argument remains that it should focus on defense rather than offense. According to them, this would allow them to protect the manpower of the Ukrainian army and devote more resources to long-term defense goals and the reconstruction of the country. In addition, Ukraine could also send a positive message to the West by presenting a strategy that includes achievable goals.
The authors see that
with such a strategy, Ukraine could also make it clear to Russia that their current strategy, which is based on exhausting the West and Ukraine, is doomed to failure in the long run.
In this case, it is conceivable that in the end the parties would end up at the negotiating table, which – according to the authors – could ultimately be beneficial for Ukraine, since they see: for Ukraine, diplomacy is the best possible way not only to end the war, but also to regain the territories occupied by the Russians best way (previously, Foreign Affairs also presented expert positions that contradict the above).
“The current situation of battlefield territorial acquisitions can be compared to a glass that is half full and half empty. On the one hand, Ukraine showed incredible resilience and capabilities, and they not only fended off Russia’s attempt to subjugate the country, but also regained a significant part of the territory they lost last year. On the other hand, there is the immeasurable human and economic cost of the war, and the reality that Russia – at least for now – has successfully acquired a significant part of Ukraine’s territory by force.
Despite Ukraine’s much-publicized counter-offensive, Russia practically gained more territory in 2023 than Ukraine. All in all, however, neither side made significant progress. The Ukrainian and Russian forces practically reached a stalemate, and the standing war began
– concluded the two authors.
Time is not in Ukraine’s favor
The West has several options. One is to continue what they have been doing, which is to give Ukraine significant arms shipments in the hope that this will help defeat Russia.
The problem is that Ukraine’s military shows no signs of being able to break through Russia’s defenses, no matter how long or how hard they fight. The defenders usually have an advantage over the attackers, and Russian forces have dug themselves in alongside miles of minefields, traps, ditches, and fortifications.
The West could send more tanks, long-range missiles, and eventually F-16 fighter jets. But there is no silver bullet that can help turn the tide on the battlefield
– wrote the authors, according to whom Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny admitted this to The Economist a few weeks ago, with his statement that no serious breakthrough can be expected on the front now.
They also mentioned that time is on Russia’s side in the current lineup: the Russian economy and military industry are much larger than Ukraine’s, and they also receive help from North Korea and Iran. Russia can send reinforcements to Ukraine at any time, it has the manpower to do so, and the anti-Russian sanctions did not achieve the desired results, and Russian energy exports also found a market for themselves after the deliveries to Europe stopped. And Putin seems secure in power and controls everything in Russia, from security policy to the media.
On the other hand, soldiers and civilians are dying in Ukraine, the country’s weapons stockpile is rapidly dwindling, the economy has shrunk by a third (although it has been showing signs of growth lately), and the West is getting tired of supporting the country, while Donald Trump is the main contender for the 2024 presidential election. . Who, if elected, can turn the country’s foreign policy on its head and remove the United States from Ukraine.
If this happens, it may cause confusion among Ukraine’s European supporters and the country may find itself in a difficult situation, which is why Washington needs to prepare for this scenario even now, before the presidential election – the authors expressed their opinion, while also pointing out that now the the Israeli war also diverts attention from Ukraine, and for this reason the entire defense policy and spending of the United Dreams must be reconsidered.
It will not be politically easy for Ukraine or the West to face these sobering strategic realities. But it is far more desirable for Kyiv and its supporters to embrace a new strategy that balances ends and means than to continue pursuing goals that lead to a dead end – and which could – in short order – lead to a significant collapse Western support for Ukraine
– summarized their opinion.
Zelensky and the Ukrainians must be convinced
At the end of the article, they repeated their previous claims, adding that they do not think now is the time for Russia to be held accountable by the West for the human and material damage caused. A ceasefire could save lives, help with reconstruction and allow Ukraine to build its long-term security policy strategy with Western help instead of using up its weapons stockpile in a standing war, they wrote.
If Russia were to reject this, Ukraine would still seize the political initiative with the move, and from then on the West would have even more reasons to stand by Ukraine and impose new anti-Russian sanctions.
In light of the fact that they are fighting for a true cause and have sacrificed a lot, it will not be easy to convince President Volodymyr Zelenskyi and the Ukrainian public to change. But the reality is that what started out as a war of necessity – for survival – in Ukraine has now transformed into a war of choice aimed at recapturing the Crimean peninsula and a significant part of the Donbass. It is not an unwinnable war, but there is a danger that Ukraine risks losing Western support
– they wrote in the article, at the end of which it was noted: a better way for Ukraine now is to build a “prosperous and secure” democracy capable of defending itself as a possible member of NATO in the remaining territories, which in itself will be interpreted as a defeat for Russia.
(Cover photo: Ukrainian soldiers take part in an air defense exercise amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine on November 11, 2023. Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters)