A negotiated peace is the only way to end Russia’s war on Ukraine

Apr 21, 2022

There is only one answer to the war in Ukraine: a peace deal.

The two-pronged US strategy, to help Ukraine overcome the Russian invasion by imposing tough sanctions and by supplying Ukraine’s military with sophisticated armaments, is likely to fall short. What is needed is a peace deal, which may be within reach. Yet to reach a deal, the United States will have to compromise on NATO, something Washington has so far rejected.

Putin started the war in Ukraine and has said negotiations have reached an impasse, without slamming the door on them. But before the war started, Putin presented the West with a list of demands including, most notably, a halt to NATO enlargement.

The US, pointedly, was not willing to engage on that point. Now would be a good time to revisit that policy. Putin also would have to show a willingness to make concessions for negotiations to succeed.

America’s arms-and-sanctions approach may sound convincing in the echo chamber of US public opinion, but it doesn’t really work on the global stage. It enjoys little support outside of the United States and Europe, and eventually may face a political backlash inside the US and Europe as well.

To anyone familiar with the Russian war effort and the horror it has unleashed on civilians, it may seem obvious that Russia would be relegated to pariah status globally. But that’s not the case: Developing countries, especially, have declined to join in the West’s campaign of isolation, as seen most recently in a US-led vote to remove Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. It’s true that 93 countries supported the move, but 100 other countries did not (24 opposed, 58 abstained, and 18 did not vote). Even more striking, those 100 countries are home to 76% of the world population.

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