Pressure on Kyiv to open peace talks misreads Russia’s deadly intentions
- Posted by: CDS
- Categories: CDS in foreign media, News
Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Chairman of the Center for Defense Strategies
It would be suicidal for Ukrainians to stop fighting as long as Putin’s war machine remains at full throttle.
It is difficult to find a country that longs for peace more than Ukraine does. A yearlong, full-scale Russian invasion has resulted in massive casualties, atrocities, damages, separated families and disrupted businesses. For this reason, it is surprising when calls for peace take the form of arguments against our resistance to invasion.
Last Sunday, thousands of protesters marched in European cities under banners urging an end to the war. However, the demonstrators were expressing support for a strange kind of peace. They called for immediate and unconditional negotiations, demanded an end to the arming of Ukraine and criticised Nato.
The protests chose to ignore the fact that Ukraine would have been in a much more drastic situation if Nato countries had not provided us with financial and military help. Striving for peace outside of the war’s grim context does not make it more probable. In fact, the word “peace” is all too often used to distract attention from the root causes of the war. None of the protesters on Sunday went to the Russian embassy and called for Moscow to stop the war.
That reminds me of a recent paper, Avoiding a Long War, by Samuel Charap and Miranda Priebe of the Rand Corporation. They suggested that unless Ukraine sits down for peace talks with Russia, western assistance should be blocked. However, they placed less emphasis on what to do if Russia continues the war in the meantime.
Do we really need to explain that peace talks have some potential only when two parties, not just one, want to end the war? Plainly, it is difficult to talk when one party is the aggressor who started the war in the first place. Russia could stop the hostilities immediately if it so wished.
Yes, the Ukrainian government and people are deeply sceptical about peace talks with Vladimir Putin — but not because we are angry, vengeful, stubborn or opportunistic. We are resolved and determined because we understand that unless we fight, Russia will continue its aggression. Today, Russia’s invasion stops only where it is stopped. Otherwise, it simply produces more atrocities and destruction.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed a peace plan a few months ago, and it became the cornerstone of a UN resolution on February 23 that was approved by avast majority of 141 countries. Russia has never suggested any plan at all.
There is not yet a single indicator that the Russian military is ready to leave our homes. To the contrary, it is making plans for a long war, along with loud demonstrations of hatred for the very concept of the Ukrainian nation. Russia’s military factories are working in three shifts, round the clock, and its army continues to mobilise recruits.
To think that we can stop the war if we just stop fighting would be a form of suicide. We can recall that Ukraine tried to negotiate with Russia in early 2022, sending contact groups to numerous meetings, until it was clear that Putin had no desire to call off his war plans.
An important element of every fruitful negotiation is a zone of potential agreement — a combination of terms that may prove acceptable to both sides. While Putin pursues the goal of eradicating Ukraine’s existence, and we pursue the liberation of our land, we may ask what such a zone can be?
If anyone suggests concessions, it will not bring peace but rather legitimise the occupation of Ukrainian territory, condemning residents to endless suffering. Those who do not know what the Russians are doing in the occupied areas can look it up in the news — widespread atrocities occur nonstop.
We often hear the argument that our allies are helping Ukraine with their taxpayers’ money, but we aren’t winning the war quickly. We appreciate that this assistance comes at a cost. However, the Russian invasion poses a threat not only to Ukraine but to the entire democratic community.
The price of not containing the problem now will be much higher. It’s worth noting that western governments hold over $300bn of frozen Russian funds. While Russia’s aggression is widely considered unjust and illegal, it may make sense to make Putin pay for it sooner rather than later.
Constantly pressuring Ukraine to open talks ignores the reality that there is currently no alternative to resistance. While many conflicts in history have ended with negotiations, it’s erroneous to assume that this is always the case. In many situations, conflicts only end with postwar talks, and no conflict where the victim of unprovoked aggression laid down its arms has ended with an acceptable peace for that victim. Therefore, we have chosen to fight for our freedom despite all the hardships.
Source: Financial Times