As the war in Ukraine drags on into its tenth month, many European countries continue to urge Ukraine to negotiate with Russia and bring an end to the death and destruction going on, and to alleviate the economic consequences that are being felt worldwide. Ukraine’s response so far has been to unequivocally state they will not negotiate with Russia while Putin is in power, and while there are still Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.
Many of Ukraine’s supporters in the free world are finding Ukraine’s intransigent stance a little hard to comprehend, considering the scale of suffering that Ukrainians are experiencing as a result of the genocidal barbarity that Russian forces are resorting to in their futile attempt to bring Ukraine to heel. What these well-meaning though naïve spectators of the war fail to realize is that Ukraine is only being realistic with the firm conviction that any negotiations with the Russians would be totally meaningless. This has been borne out time and again in the long history of Russian-Ukrainian relations. If more Western observers took the trouble to research the history of Eastern Europe, they would have a better understanding of why Ukraine will not, and should not negotiate until the Russians let go of their reactionary imperialistic ambitions and let Ukrainians live in peace and determine their own fate.
No doubt, Putin is now open to overtures for peace talks, now that his “special military operation” has fallen apart, and the Russian forces are being badly mauled by the smaller but more determined and effective Ukrainian military. It has become obvious that he cannot win the war militarily, so he will no doubt be looking at how he can extricate himself from the mess he has created without losing his head in the process. This is also why Zelenskyy and the vast majority of Ukrainians are determined to not end this war until Putin is history and the last Russian soldier has left Ukraine.
Ukrainians know full well that any cease-fire, while Putin and his cronies remain in power would only be a temporary illusory peace, while the Muscovites regroup and try and find another way to destroy Ukraine. Eastern Europe will not see peace, until this five century long unending chain of aggressive colonialization by the Russians is permanently brought to an end. Not only the Russian leadership, but the whole badly brain-washed and submissive Russian populace must be made to understand that conquering and exploiting other countries and other ethnic peoples is not acceptable in the twenty-first century. Russia is one of the last of the major European powers to give up colonial conquest as a strategic policy, and that must not be allowed to stand. This latest “make Russia great again” movement must be nipped in the bud before it causes any more damage to the world order and the global economy.
There is no doubt that there has been global collateral damage as a result of this war. European economies have been hard hit by the energy supply crisis caused by the war. World food supplies have been significantly compromised by the Russians impeding grain shipments from Ukraine, one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters. The overall instability and uncertainty caused by the war is creating turmoil on the world’s markets and spurring inflation. Russia is using this chaos and economic havoc to pressure Ukraine’s allies into urging Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war. However, any premature negotiations prior to Russia being totally defeated are certain to fail in the long run. There can only be real negotiations for a lasting peace when there is a true “regime change” in Russia. Russia should be made to understand that it can only return to being a part of the civilized world and the global economy if it gives up its ambitions of recreating a new “Soviet” empire which it is trying to foist off on the rest of the world as a “Russkiy Mir”.
It has been the consistent experience of Ukraine for the past five hundred years that any agreements, treaties and promises made by the Russians are worthless. They will renege or ignore these as soon as it is expedient for them to do so, and they have shown time and again, that they care not a whit what the rest of the world thinks about them. The Budapest agreement of 1994 signed by Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. guaranteed that if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, the signatories would promise to not threaten or use military force or economic coercion against Ukraine. It is obvious what Russia thought about the value of that commitment.
There is absolutely no way that Ukraine can count on Russia keeping either its past or future promises. It should only negotiate when Russia is no longer capable of seriously threatening Ukraine in the foreseeable future.