Where to look for the silver bullet?

Ukrainian soldier
Ukrainian soldier

Kyiv will be asked to change its strategy and consider a scenario of ending the war through negotiations. But there is another approach.

There are more and more comments from Western analysts, whose conclusions are that there is no silver bullet (in the sense of providing Ukraine with certain types of weapons) that would be able to turn the tide of the war. Therefore, it is necessary to change the strategy and move on to finding a negotiated end to the war.

What could be the parties' position around such negotiations, which are increasingly subject to indirect pressure on Ukraine?

1. Ukraine's unchanged but weakened position - due to the depletion of its resources, the reduction of military aid and "peacekeeping pressure" from all sides.

2. Russia's position is strengthened by a sense of "victory" and incentives (easing of sanctions) from the West, which is inclined to make concessions for the sake of a phantom consensus.

3. The strengthened position of China and countries belonging to the Axis of Evil, for whom Moscow is now the engine of the fight against the "hated West."

4. The neutral position of the countries of the Global South, traumatized by the colonial past and agreeing, without noticing the strategic consequences, to make concessions to the terrorist state in exchange for immediate preferences.

5. Vague, contradictory positions of Western countries, weakened by gradual changes in their political landscape due to the trend of populist, left-wing, and right-wing radical political forces winning elections.

At the same time, the possibility of bringing Ukraine and Russia to the negotiating table is seen as a desirable outcome of this approach. In reality, however, the hope is that Russia will agree to abandon its aggressive behavior and return the seized territories to Kyiv. They try to refrain from talking about when to return all or part of the territories or under what conditions.

Is this really the kind of Ukraine that the EU and NATO want on their borders?

What might a "carrot" look like for Ukraine? Unclear prospects for negotiations on the return of the territories? But this means that Russia is currently prolonging its covert annexation, radically and purposefully changing the demographic composition of the population in these territories.

Promises to grant Ukraine NATO membership without extending Article 5 to the occupied territories? Yes, this will limit Russia's appetites to some extent. However, given the Alliance's attempts to avoid direct conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia, it will at least not materially encourage Ukraine's efforts to liberate the territories.

Given the mood in patriotic circles of Ukrainian society, the attitude to the sacrifices made on the altar of the struggle for freedom, and the almost inevitable failure of Western economic assistance in rebuilding Ukraine (there are already reasons for concern about frozen Russian assets), this, along with the traditional squabbles within Ukrainian politics, could seriously destabilize the country. Is this really the kind of Ukraine that the EU and NATO want on their borders?

In general, the approach of some Western countries to the end of the war is very similar to attempts to make predictions (identify possible scenarios) and wait for them to come true while continuing the policy of small steps. As modern experience shows, such a policy often leads to negative consequences, as the problems are growing, and resources are limited and depleted. This is precisely what the autocracies' plan to destabilize the security situation and spread conflicts to the Middle East and beyond is designed to achieve. They want to ensure that the volume of problems exceeds the capacity of the West in general, and the United States in particular, to solve them.

However, there is another approach: First, determine the desired end and intermediate results, then, based on a thorough analysis of available resources and problems, formulate action plans. This approach requires honest answers to several questions.

Read also: Russia's New Great War. What Putin is preparing for

What type of inevitable confrontation between democracies and autocracies is acceptable: military confrontation or civilized economic competition? If the latter, then measures should be taken on both sides to prevent military tensions.

Is peaceful coexistence possible with state and non-state actors that aim to destroy Western values? No, but in this case, measures should be taken to eliminate the respective political regimes as sources of military threats.

Are the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East wars between Ukraine and Israel, or are they joint wars of democracies for their values? If these wars are common, victories and defeats are common, and goals, efforts, and costs should be common and proportionate. Under these conditions, and given that for Ukraine and Israel the costs are measured in the blood of military and civilians, it would be more appropriate for Western countries not to reproach them with ingratitude for the assistance provided, but to be grateful that the blood of their own citizens is not being shed (at least for now).

For certain political forces in the West, the stalemate in the war has become a reason to call for a revision of the strategy away from increased assistance to Ukraine and toward "unobtrusive" pushing for negotiations with Russia. The authors of such calls usually refrain from bothering with arguments. They do not deny the West's partial responsibility for the stalemate, i.e., the disruption of arms deliveries at the right time, of the right type, in the right quantities.

Then, other questions arise. Has Ukraine received the million shells promised by the EU? Did the Ukrainian Armed Forces receive tanks, long-range missiles, etc., in a timely manner and in sufficient quantities? Could a stalemate have been avoided under such circumstances? Why must we change our strategy when it is enough to correct existing mistakes to achieve the desired result? Therefore, the silver bullet should be sought not in certain types of weapons, which alone are not capable of turning the tide, but in approaches to a common vision of the results of the war and shared responsibility for the consequences.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine