May 21, 2022

WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT WHEN THEY’RE WINNING? Growing Chorus Is Urging Ukraine To Sue for Peace in a Compromise With Putin: Beyond justice, there is no guarantee that a compromise involving Ukraine conceding territory that the Russian army currently holds would satisfy Putin. Well, yes.

A growing chorus in Washington and Europe is urging President Zelensky to lay down and play dead. If only Russia were permitted to eat up the Donbas region of Ukraine, they say, there would be peace in our time — just as there was supposed to be after Hitler was allowed to seize the Sudetenland.

This call is intensifying as the financial cost of America’s involvement in the European war is passing $56 billion and rising. As Republican fiscal hawks and Democrat doves are beginning to push back, Ukraine could become politically hazardous for President Biden as America hurtles toward the midterms.

The latest voice in this chorus is the New York Times editorial board, which often voices un-uttered White House sentiments and policy prescriptions. Now it is advocating a war-ending path. In an editorial Friday, the paper declared, “It is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions.”

The recipe seems simple: End the Ukraine war in a way that would allow the invader, Vladimir Putin, to save face. If Ukraine ceded such territories as the breakaway “republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk and allowed Russia to maintain its annexation of Crimea, this thinking goes, Moscow would lick its wounds, declare victory, and end the war
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The real winner in such a scenario, goes the argument, would be the Ukrainians, because they managed to wrestle the Bear and stay alive. By this light, all’s well that ends well. War over, everybody wins.

Yet Kyiv isn’t buying it.

Mr. Zelensky recently disclosed, in an interview with Italy’s RAI television, that this very compromise was offered to him by President Macron. His answer, Mr. Zelensky said, was a resounding no.

“We want the Russian army to leave our land,” he told RAI. “We won’t help Putin save face by paying with our territory. That would be unjust.”

Beyond justice, there is no guarantee Mr. Putin would be satisfied by a compromise involving a concession by Ukraine of territory currently held by the Russian army. Such border lines rarely remain intact, as invaders remain hungry for additional conquest.

To discourage future invasions, make this one extremely painful.

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