Ukraine: negotiate or continue? | Montreal Magazine

Ukraine: negotiate or continue?  |  Montreal Magazine

The sad truth is that humans are accustomed to everything, even horror.

We are on the 113th day of the war in Ukraine.

Let’s admit it’s settled into our lives, and we’re used to it, especially since it doesn’t seem like it’s about to end and we’re not personally affected.

Equally terrible battles have been raging elsewhere in the world, for much longer, without our sleep being so disturbed.

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But the war in Ukraine shook our cynicism.

First, because of the extraordinary courage of the Ukrainians.

Then, because so many of us, let’s face it, no longer believed such a tough and uniform reaction to Russian aggression against the West that we considered indolent and immoral.

With the exception of troop shipments, Western efforts to provide arms and financial support to a country under attack may be unprecedented.

And it yielded results: the Russian army abandoned its intention to occupy the whole country, and concentrated its forces on the south and east.

This positive result, however, leads to a dilemma.

Inevitably, the longer the conflict continues, the more dead people will accumulate and the higher the costs of reconstruction.

So, some say: If we don’t want everything to go wrong and falter, we should allow Putin to save face and give him some territorial gains.

The longer the conflict continues, they add, the more Western solidarity will collapse, which will isolate Ukraine.

So it is better to bargain now, however morally unsatisfactory it may be.

Henry Kissinger, for example, argues that not trying to negotiate now is tantamount to swinging from defending Ukraine to declaring war on Russia.

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But we can see the situation very differently, as the review so eloquently argues The Economist.

Negotiating now would mean ceding half of a victory to Putin that would allow him to consolidate his gains and make them irreversible, as was the case with Crimea that was seized by force in 2014.

Negotiating now would leave him in a position to attempt a third attack on Ukraine, or be tempted to go after other smaller neighbors, such as the Baltic states, Moldova or Georgia.

Negotiating now may tempt other dictators to follow Putin’s playbook: attack your neighbour, cling long enough, cause enough havoc, wait until fatigue builds appetite for compromise, and you’ll have territorial gains, especially if those territories aren’t considered strategic.

Ultimately, the review argues that no solution should be imposed on Ukrainians without their consent. They are the ones who were mistreated after all.

In other words, we will negotiate when they want it and we will support them for as long as they ask.

It seems to me that this is the most honorable and wisest position.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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