Don't go wobbly on Ukraine
Calls for negotiations now are damaging and counterproductive
Ukrainian victory—defined as expelling all Russian invading and occupying troops from Ukrainian territory—is not some pipe dream in Kyiv or among some of us in the commentariat.
The Ukrainians have demonstrated that if the United States and our allies continue to provide the kind of military and economic support Ukraine needs, they will know how to deploy such weapons effectively against the Russians. Yet there is a rising chorus of voices clamoring for a negotiated end to Russia’s war against Ukraine, creating music to ears in the Kremlin while demoralizing the brave Ukrainians doing the fighting.
Such calls are even coming from some within the Biden administration. But those pushing for Ukraine to sit down and hammer out a negotiated resolution to the war don’t seem to be consulting the Ukrainians. Instead, they’re apparently driven by concern about escalation—that Russia might use a nuclear weapon to stop the advancing Ukrainian forces—and about the economic and financial fallout in parts of Europe and the United States. They seem to want to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to negotiate, a position that would be deeply unpopular inside Ukraine.
To the surprise of most analysts, Ukraine has scored tremendous victories in the war, albeit at a high cost, pushing back not only on Russian advances since February 24, but even recapturing territory Russia occupied for nearly eight years. As the Institute for the Study of War has written, “Russian forces have greatly depleted their arsenal of high-precision weapons systems and have suffered significant aviation losses and will likely struggle to maintain the current pace of the Russian military’s coordinated campaign against Ukrainian critical infrastructure.” Analysts instead should be contemplating the possibility of a total Russian military collapse, and with it, quite possibly, the demise of the Putin regime. Should that happen, the likelihood of Ukraine’s regaining control of all its territory, including Crimea, becomes more real.