HomeInternationalRussia’s aggression against Ukraine leaves no room for negotiations

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine leaves no room for negotiations

By Peter Dickinson, Writer, Enterprise Ukraine, Editor, UkraineAlert, Atlantic Council

As an alternative of makes an attempt to discount with Putin, it ought to now be apparent that the one option to safe an enduring peace is by way of Ukrainian victory and the decisive defeat of Russian imperialism, Peter Dickinson writes.

For nearly a yr and a half, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shocked and horrified the watching world greater than some other occasion in fashionable European historical past. 

However, there are nonetheless many worldwide voices arguing for some type of compromise with the Kremlin. 

On each the American proper and the European left, and from China to Brazil, distinguished figures proceed to name for an instantaneous ceasefire, although any negotiated settlement would virtually actually go away giant swathes of Ukraine below Russian management.

Supporters of a land-for-peace deal sometimes declare to be realists motivated by a want to finish the carnage in Ukraine as shortly as attainable. 

Whereas some are no doubt solely honest of their intentions, all of those so-called realists are united by a basic failure to recognise the true nature of the Putin regime and the genocidal character of the Russian invasion.

Brazen designs and imperial ambitions

The conflict unleashed by Vladimir Putin in February 2022 is no mere border dispute that may be resolved by way of territorial concessions; it’s an old school conflict of imperial conquest that seeks to extinguish Ukrainian statehood and eradicate all traces of Ukrainian nationwide identification. 

Asking Ukrainians to achieve a compromise with this eliminationist agenda is each grotesque and absurd. However, that’s precisely what we’re at present witnessing.

It’s maybe hardly stunning that so many individuals nonetheless misunderstand Putin’s true intentions in Ukraine. 

The Russian dictator has labored onerous to muddy the waters, providing up a collection of excuses to justify the conflict and distract consideration away from his personal imperial ambitions.

Putin’s handiest deception has been the declare that Russia is solely reacting to many years of NATO growth. 

For the reason that invasion of Ukraine started, quite a few politicians and commentators all over the world have echoed Putin’s complaints concerning the post-1991 progress of NATO, arguing that this course of posed an insupportable risk to Russian nationwide safety that made conflict inevitable. 

Nevertheless, Russia’s personal obvious indifference to Finland’s latest NATO accession has made a mockery of such assertions.

NATO isn’t the rationale

The Finns, who share a 1,300km border with Russia, declared their intention to affix NATO in Might 2022 and joined the alliance eleven months later. 

Throughout that interval, Russia took no steps to protest or enhance its army presence near Finland. 

Quite the opposite, Putin downplayed the importance of Finnish NATO membership, whereas the Russian military truly withdrew the majority of its troops from the border area.

Russia has since adopted the identical unconcerned stance on imminent Swedish NATO membership, even if this may rework the Baltic Sea right into a NATO lake.

Evidently, Putin doesn’t regard NATO as a safety risk to the Russian Federation. 

Russian dislike of NATO enlargement is actual sufficient, but it surely has nothing to do with professional nationwide safety issues. 

As an alternative, Putin objects to NATO as a result of it prevents him from bullying Russia’s neighbours.

The continued absurdity of claims of Ukrainian ‘Nazis’

Whereas Russia’s NATO arguments don’t stand as much as scrutiny, Putin’s different excuses are much more far-fetched. 

Most notoriously, he has positioned his invasion of Ukraine as a campaign to “de-Nazify” the nation. 

A short have a look at Ukraine’s political panorama must be sufficient to show the absurdity of this declare. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and first rose to nationwide prominence as a Russian-speaking comic, however this didn’t stop him from successful the Ukrainian presidency by a landslide. 

Whereas Zelenskyy enjoys document approval scores, Ukraine’s far-right politicians stay firmly on the fringes of the nation’s democracy. 

Following years of embarrassing election failures, Ukraine’s nationalist events united in 2019 below a single electoral banner however nonetheless ended up with simply 2% of the vote. 

Whereas the Kremlin rants about imaginary Ukrainian fascists, there are few European international locations the place far-right politicians take pleasure in much less assist than Ukraine.

Putin’s discuss of NATO and Nazis is designed to disguise the far darker motives driving his invasion. 

In widespread with hundreds of thousands of his compatriots, Putin rejects your entire notion of Ukrainian statehood and sees Ukrainian independence as a logo of the historic injustice that befell Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

When he bemoans the break-up of the USSR and “the demise of historic Russia,” it’s primarily Ukraine he has in thoughts. 

Subjugating Ukraine has change into the cornerstone of what he regards as his sacred mission to revive the Russian Empire.

The Ukraine obsession is nothing new for Russia and Putin

Putin’s implacable opposition to Ukrainian independence additionally displays his alarm over post-Soviet Ukraine’s embrace of democracy, which he sees as an existential risk to his personal authoritarian regime. 

It’s no coincidence that Putin’s Ukraine obsession first grew to become obvious within the aftermath of the pro-democracy 2004 Orange Revolution, which overturned a rigged Ukrainian presidential vote. 

He’s terrified that as democratic political traditions take root in Ukraine, this may spark calls for for related change inside Russia itself. 

These fears are rooted in Putin’s private expertise as a younger KGB officer in Chilly Battle-era East Germany, the place he witnessed the unravelling of Soviet energy as pro-democracy actions swept the Japanese Bloc within the late Eighties. 

Putin stays haunted by the prospect of a democratic Ukraine serving because the catalyst for a brand new chapter within the ongoing breakup of the Russian Empire and seems able to pay virtually any worth to forestall that from occurring.

Unhinged essays and bare landgrabs

This preoccupation with Ukraine has intensified through the years and has come to dominate Putin’s complete reign. 

He’s notorious for insisting Ukrainians are literally Russians (“one folks”), and revealed an unhinged 5000-word essay in July 2021 that learn like a declaration of conflict against Ukrainian statehood. 

Putin went even additional in the summertime of 2022, instantly evaluating the continuing invasion of Ukraine to the imperial conquests of 18th-century Russian Tzar Peter the Nice.

Months later, he oversaw a lavish Kremlin ceremony formally annexing 4 partially-occupied areas of Ukraine, representing round 20% of the nation. This bare land seize was a part of the battle for a “higher historic Russia,” he defined.

Putin didn’t invent this anti-Ukrainian doctrine. Quite the opposite, it has been a central function of Russia’s imperial identification for centuries. 

However, his Ukraine fixation is acute even by Russian requirements and has distorted the nation’s nationwide discourse to the extent that genocidal rhetoric focusing on Ukrainians is now a routine function of Russia’s closely censored mainstream media. 

Unsurprisingly, this has poisoned attitudes in direction of Ukraine amongst strange Russians and has helped to gas sturdy public assist for the invasion, which has remained persistently above 70% in accordance with Russia’s solely internationally revered unbiased pollster, the Levada Heart. 

Whereas there are professional issues over the validity of opinion polls in dictatorships, there may be no denying the virtually full absence of an anti-war motion in right this moment’s Russia. In a really actual sense, that is Russia’s conflict, not simply Putin’s conflict.

From absurdities to atrocities — and ultimately, genocide

The conflict crimes being dedicated by Russian troopers in Ukraine are the logical consequence of the anti-Ukrainian hysteria that has lengthy been normalized inside Russia itself. 

In spite of everything, as Voltaire famously warned, those that could make you consider absurdities could make you commit atrocities. 

Nor are these crimes the work of remoted people or rogue models. Quite the opposite, in each single liberated area of the nation, Ukrainian officers have uncovered strikingly related proof of abstract executions, torture, sexual violence, mass deportations, youngster abductions, pressured russification, and the systematic suppression of Ukrainian nationwide identification. 

This descent into barbarism is a direct results of the genocidal intentions on show in Moscow.

All of that is completely well-known in Ukraine, which explains why there may be just about no urge for food for any compromise with the Kremlin. 

One latest survey discovered that 84% of Ukrainians oppose any territorial concessions to Moscow and demand on the entire liberation of the nation from Russian occupation, even when which means prolonging the conflict. 

Ukrainians recognise that until Russia is pressured to withdraw utterly from their nation, Putin will use any ceasefire settlement to rearm and regroup earlier than renewing his invasion. 

To some outdoors observers, this steely dedication to defeat Russia could seem uncompromising and even unhelpful. From a Ukrainian perspective, it’s merely the one option to safe nationwide survival.

A peace settlement would endanger others, too

Nor are Ukrainians the one potential victims of a negotiated settlement. Rewarding Russia’s invasion with territorial concessions would have disastrous penalties for worldwide safety. 

It will embolden the Kremlin and invite additional Russian aggression, with the likes of Moldova, Kazakhstan, and the Baltic states all potential targets.

Different authoritarian rulers would additionally be taught the teachings of Putin’s success and embark on their very own expansionist adventures. 

The entire world would enter a brand new period of worldwide instability marked by a rising tide of militarism and geopolitical intimidation.

Because the massive-scale conflict on European soil approaches the one-and-a-half-year mark, it’s value underlining that no person desires peace greater than the Ukrainians themselves. 

In spite of everything, they’re those who’re being terrorized and slaughtered every day; they’re those pressured to spend their nights in filthy trenches and makeshift bomb shelters. 

And but they’re sincere sufficient to acknowledge {that a} untimely peace could be no peace in any respect. Quite the opposite, it might just about assure extra conflict.

Do not discount with Putin

Anybody calling for an instantaneous ceasefire should reckon with this grim actuality. 

Russia isn’t an affordable worldwide actor looking for to deal with professional safety issues; it’s an brazenly imperialistic energy that categorically rejects the present worldwide order and has made clear its intention to wipe Ukraine off the map solely.

In such circumstances, supporters of a compromise settlement danger enabling genocide within the coronary heart of Europe and robbing the broader world of the safety that has fueled many years of rising residing requirements. 

Any try to discount with Putin would set a disastrous precedent for the way forward for worldwide relations. 

As an alternative, it ought to now be apparent that the one option to safe an enduring peace is by way of Ukrainian victory and the decisive defeat of Russian imperialism.

Peter Dickinson is the writer of Enterprise Ukraine journal and UkraineAlert editor on the Atlantic Council.

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