Ukraine’s period of good international fortune is coming to an end and it will have to decide on peace, under pressure that until recently seemed unthinkable. This is due in part to the growing economic problems of the world and the inevitable political changes in the United States. President Volodymyr Zelensky will likely be discreetly persuaded to start a peace initiative after the spring-summer offensive.
The truth is brutal: the territorial borders and shape of Ukraine’s independence lie in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers who are dying on the battlefield. The West, which currently supports this fight “as long as it takes,” to quote President Joe Biden, will not always take this stance. Therefore, the Ukrainian offensive, which everyone is waiting for with increasingly heavy hearts, will decide everything. Meanwhile, in Western decision-making circles, plans are being made for what peace might look like, and when necessary, imposed on Ukraine.
Of course, Ukrainians will not have to accept such an agreement and probably will not want to, but the suspension or significant reduction of military and economic aid will force them to give in. They are now waging their war successfully only because they are receiving enormous support. They will also have to come to terms with the knowledge that restoring the territorial integrity of their country, so brutally and unfairly attacked, will not be the only goal of peace talks. Perhaps not even the most important one.
Wishful thinking, or the place not at the table
This is how one should probably understand the text published over a month ago by the veteran of American diplomacy, the over 90-year-old Thomas R. Pickering, who in the past served as an ambassador to Russia and the United Nations, among others. He titled his lengthy analysis simply: “How to prepare for peace talks in Ukraine.” As for the goal of these talks, he listed achieving peace between Russia and Ukraine in the first place, emphasising that this is “obviously” the most important goal.
Immediately thereafter, however, Pickering stated that the United States and their European partners will certainly want such a peace agreement to make the entire region more stable in terms of security. Finally, he mentioned the stabilisation of mutual relations between the United States and Russia, “especially in the nuclear arena.” One can assume that in more confidential talks, the ambassador would be inclined to reverse the hierarchy of goals. It was very clear from his article that he would like to show Ukraine its proper place, which is rather a place in the ranks, rather than at the table where decisions are made.
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– Translated by jz