What does Ending the Ukraine War Mean?
By David W Wang
As the Russia’s war in Ukraine just passed 100 days, the world seems yet to see any light in the tunnel for where the war is heading for. Some debates have arisen about the best approach to end this war. One way of thinking was represented by Henry Kissinger, who has suggested in his recent video conversation at Davos that resolving the conflict over Ukraine may involve territorial adjustments.
To achieve the goal suggested by Kissinger, President Zelenskyy and his government must accept that Ukraine will be a neutral state and that it will concede to Russia the Donbas oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Crimea.
Kissinger’s stance or similar suggestion is now backed or kind of backed by France, Germany, Italy, and other European powers including Turkey.
The opposite is the so-called “decisive victory” posture, as typically epitomized by the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, whose position is Russia “must be defeated at all costs, and without compromise.” That may mean a total failure of Russia, and also a restoration of Ukraine’s borders, including Crimea, as well as the imposition of reparations on Russia for its infrastructure destruction and crimes against humanity.
Such decisive victory position is supported by Poland, Estonia, and other Eastern European members of NATO, the UK government, and the US government.
So far, the world (except for the Ukraine government) has stopped short of calling Kissinger’s notion as appeasement to Russia which may remind the history and lessons learnt from WWII. It can be called as some kind of realist foreign policy.
Its main arguments include whether a decisive victory worth the cost of more carnage in Ukraine, the possibility of a wider and worsen war, namely chemical or tactical nuclear weapons might be used, causing crisis of the world economy, and a renewed cold and even hot war across Europe.
On the other hand, countries who want a decisive victory over Russia see this is the war about a global duel between the partisans of democracy and autocracy, or to put in plain words, between the good and bad guys. Such response can be just intuitive and emotional, which is about repelling the brutal Russian aggression by all means.