Despite the successes chalked up by the underdog Ukrainian military, Pat Buchanan sees the most likely result of the war in Ukraine as a further partitioning of the country and forced neutrality on the leftover Ukrainian homeland. He writes on Buchanan.org:
“It’s time to meet, time to talk … time to restore territorial integrity … for Ukraine,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday.
Zelenskyy added that the need to negotiate was even greater for Moscow. “Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to rebound.”
According to the Pentagon, Russia has lost 7,000 soldiers; Kyiv puts the figure at 14,000 dead.
Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears less pressured to meet and talk. What does this tell us?
Zelenskyy does not believe further fighting will benefit Ukraine as much as it will cost his country. And he wants the war over.
As for Putin, as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Sunday, “He’s not been able to achieve the goals that he wants to achieve as rapidly as he wants to achieve them.” Putin wants more time.
The Russian president began the invasion of Ukraine with Crimea already annexed and the enclaves of Luhansk and Donetsk having already declared their independence of Kyiv.
Since the invasion began, however, Putin’s forces have besieged but not taken Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, or second largest city, Kharkiv.
Yet, Russian troops are now in Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, having completed a land bridge from Russia through the Donbas to Crimea and, from there, halfway to Odessa, the last major Ukrainian port on the Black Sea.
While the Ukrainian army and citizens have put up fiercer resistance than was anticipated in Moscow, Russia is not losing this war.
Measured by territorial gains, Putin is winning
He has not captured Kyiv or Kharkiv, but he has expanded the Russian-controlled territories of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea that he had at the start of his invasion.
While Russia’s costs and casualties have been far greater than was anticipated, Putin has added to the Ukrainian lands he held when the war began. And Mother Russia has not lost an inch of land in this war.
“How does this thing end?” Gen. David Petraeus famously asked on the road to Baghdad.
No political solution appears more likely than a new partition of Ukraine, with lands east of the Dnieper River and along the coasts of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea being ceded to Moscow, and the west of Ukraine being declared a neutral nation like Austria or Finland in the Cold War.
The problem with this probable outcome is that Zelenskyy has ruled out any territorial concessions or land transfers from Ukraine to Russia. And he seeks to “restore,” not to make permanent, the 2014 amputations of Crimea and the Donbas.
The dilemma: Zelenskyy probably cannot survive ceding control of any Ukrainian land to Russia. And Putin probably cannot survive a failure in peace talks to expand the Ukrainian holdings with which he began the war.
The “territorial integrity” of Ukraine is the crucial issue in ending this war.
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