Ukrainian forces’ impressive military performance has reinforced the view that an outright victory against Russia is possible. But an unqualified Ukrainian win that dislodges the Russian forces from eastern Ukraine is increasingly improbable. Grinding attrition that makes dangerous escalation a tantalizing option for both countries is more likely. Accordingly, a ceasefire and separation of forces should be a priority for the United States and its allies. The United States has the tools and experience to make it happen. […]
Neither side can fulfill its maximal war aims: Russia cannot conquer all of Ukraine and Ukraine cannot comprehensively eject Russian forces. Each side also needs minimal assurances. Ukraine needs guarantees that Russia won’t keep trying to wipe it from the map while Russia won’t permit NATO to deploy along its border. These are not unreasonable requirements. Ukraine is an internationally recognized sovereign country. Notwithstanding the disingenuously false pretexts Russian president Vladimir Putin has offered, it is Ukraine’s tilt towards the West that has driven his war, which implicates genuine Russian interests. Both countries require security guarantees.
There is also a widespread assumption that because the opposing leaders (especially Putin) are disinclined to negotiate, talks will emerge only from the war of attrition now underway when both combatants are exhausted. This view does not offer a stable interim solution to a profound geopolitical feud. Both sides have serious concerns that could lead to a sharp and swift escalation. Läs artikel