WHAT CONDITIONS MIGHT RUSSIA SET FOR AN END TO ITS UKRAINE CAMPAIGN?
The war in Ukraine will have an end at some point. There is incentive on both sides, but of varying degrees. Might it be that a ceasefire and new elections may precede it? What are the possibilities?
Any negotiations Russia would countenance to end its campaign in eastern Ukraine would have to be with the USA. This on the basis, as the saying goes, of talking to the organ grinder and not to his monkey. Besides which, the Ukrainian regime have shown time and time again that it no longer has any intention to talk to the Russians on this issue. However, there is no reason for Russia to trust U.S. officials at any level, this being due to the unreliability of any agreements being likely to last the test of time. The USA has an extremely poor record on this account.
However, the USA is currently overstretched and besides this its gambit regarding using Ukraine to weaken Russia has quite clearly failed. There is little to no upside to continuing this effort, especially when there are more urgent concerns in the Middle East and Far East to concern itself with.
Without doubt, if it was politically possible for the Biden administration to manage the fallout from extricating the USA from the Ukrainian debacle it would use it. The problem is that on the face of it, in an election year in the U.S. it is difficult to see how this obvious failure could be managed effectively. Of course this depends on the general sentiment of the U.S. populace in this regard. It is quite possible that the administration’s failure to defeat Russia could be spun to advantage. How could this be done?
In recent weeks the favoured (and of course false) narrative being tested on public opinion is that Russia had the goal of taking and occupying all Ukraine and failed. This lie would be hammered home at every opportunity. A sub-narrative would of course be that this was a Ukrainian victory. Facilitated by the USA of course. Every part of the mass media circus which favours the Democrats would mirror both narratives. Using such a smokescreen Biden’s failure in Ukraine might just possibly be sold as an enormous positive.
This past week an article was published in the Washington Post that signalled the possibility that the idea of the Kiev regime taking back its lost territory could be abandoned. This bowing to reality considering Russia’s overwhelmingly strong position on the battlefield bodes well for an eventual settlement but as ever, the devil is in the detail. Why should Russia trust that a mere frozen conflict was being contemplated after which the western allies would simply re-arm Ukraine to restart the war again later?
Naturally Russia would like to put all this behind it but not without attaining its goals which were set at the outset.
The minimum conditions would be Ukraine never joining NATO, the Ukrainian military being essentially demobbed and reduced to ceremonial duties only, complete security for the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass and a fully funded campaign to eliminate all semblance of support for the Nazi-legacy cult in western Ukraine. It must be suspected also that Russia would insist upon new presidential and general elections occurring in Ukraine. These may even be demanded by Russia to be held while Russia continues its campaign to drive the Ukrainian army from the Donbass.
Naturally the USA will seek to convince Russia to postpone many of its demands to a later date, preferably after November. In the meantime the possibility of a ceasefire will likely be broached by the U.S. side with the enticement for Russia that there will be an acknowledgement from the USA that Russia can retain the lands it has already taken. Any such statement will have dubious value however, as Russia will know. The overwhelming ( and no doubt accurate) suspicion will be that this can be overturned at the drop of a hat whenever this administration (or the next) deems it necessary.
Trust, or rather the lack of it, is the primary reason why coming to an agreement on halting this conflict, even temporarily, will almost certainly founder. The U.S. state, along with its allies have demonstrated a general willingness to deceive and renege on commitments. While the Biden administration has many reasons to want the Ukrainian debacle to go away and soon, Russia, getting stronger by the day and seeing the Kiev regime’s position growing ever weaker, has no particular incentive pushing it in that direction.
Will Biden and his people seek at least a ceasefire if not negotiations to end the conflict entirely? This looks very likely. Will Russia engage in talks, most likely back channel talks exploring the possibility of a ceasefire with a guarantee that the USA would insist Kiev agree to holding elections? This latter suggestion might well attract a positive response from Russia. However, it must strongly be suspected that Russia would insist on continuing its campaign at least up to one week before polling day, or closer still.
Depending on the result of the elections a whole new scenario of possibilities may open up. With Zelensky and his entire cabinet and possibly his entire party gone who knows what might then be agreed under these entirely new circumstances? A Russia-neutral president and government in Ukraine might just transform the situation and allow all manner of new possibilities to flow. If this was to transpire then the possibility of a final end to hostilities in Ukraine could emerge, and the rebuilding process on all fronts begin.