Is a Negotiated Peace with Russia Possible?
Putin’s mindset is such that he can’t stop the war, pull his armed forces out of Ukraine, and admit that invading that country was a bad idea. He can’t bear the thought of how humiliating it would be for him to back down. And since he doesn’t care in the slightest how many innocent people he kills and maims, it’s highly likely that he will keep up his military assault until, after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and tens of thousands of Russians die and much of Ukraine’s buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed, Russian forces physically control what’s left of the major cities of Ukraine and he has installed a puppet regime, which will have to deal with an extremely hostile citizenry and guerilla attacks by survivors for an indefinite period. Putin can declare victory, but it will be pyrrhic victory as will become evident even to the Russian people.
A least worst (which is still necessarily very bad) diplomatic solution would be desirable before even further tragedy is piled onto what has already occurred. Here’s one that might be acceptable to all parties. Crimea and Ukraine’s two eastern provinces claimed and presently occupied by Russia will be ceded to Russia. Ukraine’s continuing existence as a sovereign self-determining nation will be guaranteed by all parties. NATO will not be constrained in admitting any new country to the alliance except Ukraine. (It will be an unspecified but realistic fact that NATO will establish and maintain military superiority over Russia.) NATO and Russia will enter into a nonaggression pact. Although Ukraine will not be part of NATO, NATO will pledge to defend Ukraine if Russia attacks Ukraine in violation of the nonaggression pact. Sanctions against Russia will be lifted. Russia will foreswear attacking any other European country and understand that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all. All parties will contribute to a robust rehabilitation and relief plan for Ukraine. Russia and NATO countries will agree to enter into good faith nuclear and conventional arms control negotiations.