Nicholas Barry Creel is an assistant professor of business law at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
As Americans, we must continue to stand with Ukraine in their war against Russia. As time goes by this will become more difficult as the cost of that support literally goes up for us all. Regardless, practically and philosophically, it remains in our nation’s best interests to pay that price.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in its fifth month, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this war has the capacity to drag on for far longer than most had anticipated.
Initial Russian hopes for a quick victory were dashed early on when Ukraine was able to repel a very poorly prepared Russian military away from its capital and to the outer edges of its eastern border. Even then, there was still hope of a rapid resolution in that this setback could have pressed Putin to accept a far more meager territorial gain than he originally anticipated. However, it is now also clear that both Russia and Ukraine have no intention to end things any time soon.
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Territorial concessions are not the way
Some in the West have pushed for Ukraine to accept territorial concessions to end the war. This is an unacceptable avenue to peace for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, Ukrainians themselves are resolutely against any such appeasement. For us to dictate that they must cede the land they have given their lives to protect is unequivocally and morally repugnant.
What’s more is that such a solution, if it can be called that, is a recipe for the conflict to morph into a never-ending state of civil unrest that would undoubtedly see Russia regularly committing horrendous crimes against humanity toward those Ukrainians who refuse to accept this defeat.
A second reason that territorial concessions are not a viable path to peace is that the United States is among the nations that overtly promised Ukraine territorial protection in exchange for their surrendering of nuclear weapons in 1994. Violating this pledge would make it far more difficult to prevent nuclear proliferation in countries like Iran. Indeed, the clear signal to the world in such a situation would be that a nuclear arsenal of your own is perhaps the only reliable means of achieving territorial independence.
Lastly, demanding territorial concessions from Ukraine ignores the reality that Russia already has a history of piecemeal encroachment over Ukraine’s land. As we learned from Chamberland’s appeasement of Hitler, power-hungry dictators like Putin only see their appetites grow when given easy wins.
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Deterrence beyond Russia
Backing Ukraine is about more than punishing Russia. It’s also about maintaining the global order built by the United States in the wake of WWII. By supporting a total victory for Ukraine, we send a credible signal to China that any similar attack against Taiwan or another neighboring country would be an unmitigated disaster on their part.
As a nation, we must give weight to the principle that territorial conquest is no longer acceptable. Backing down now risks returning us to a world where “might makes right” and international conflict becomes an easy way for powerful countries led by tyrants to get what they want.
As I conceded above, I am under no illusions that supporting Ukraine over the long haul will be easy. Doing so will come at a significant economic cost to the world, America included, as energy and food prices continue to go up in response to their protracted war. However, we can anticipate and mitigate against the worst of those negative effects if we are resolved to follow through on this path.
Domestic solutions to ease the pain
For example, now is the time for the U.S. and its allies in Europe to fully embrace renewable energy - not just for the environmental benefits it can provide - but for the security benefits that come from decoupling our economy from dependence on fossil fuels. Republicans who have historically stood against this sort of policy must now recognize that investing in these technologies will ensure that we remain protected against the flippant actions of oil-rich nations in the future.
In the meantime, Democrats must also make concessions in that we must immediately incentivize more oil and gas production domestically to save Americans from the inherently inflationary pressures of $5 a gallon gasoline.
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With over 9,000 unused leases at their disposal on public lands, it is clear that oil companies are not up to the task themselves as the current market has them awash in record profits. President Biden must then step in and force their hand by utilizing the Defense Production Act to increase oil production and refining capacity, a policy proposal that currently enjoys bipartisan support in Congress.
To help combat the impending food crisis, we must immediately and substantially increase agricultural subsidies just as we did during the COVID-19 crisis. Doing so will not only have the near-immediate effect of lowering the grocery bills of Americans, but it could also help avert the impending global famine that Russia is causing by blocking Ukrainian ports.
The costs of standing with Ukraine may well be high - but they can be controlled and they ultimately pale in comparison to the cost of anything resembling a Russian victory.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Territorial concessions aren't the solution to the invasion of Ukraine