Russia, Ukraine, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, sanctions, diplomacy, NATO, energy, European Union, North Atlantic treaty Organization, EU, nuclear war, Ukraine War, World War 3
As I’ve repeatedly argued, every day the Ukraine war lasts, the United States runs an ever greater risk of the conflict going nuclear and the American homeland coming under attack. And as I’ve also argued, the creation of any such nuclear risk is completely unacceptable because despite all the military aid provided by Washington, the U.S government still hasn’t backed admitting Ukraine to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). That alliance of course is made up of countries whose security the United States has officially designated as vital, and thus by definition worth incurring such risks.
So in order to ensure that U.S. leaders don’t continue exposing the American population to a catastrophe that would make the September 11 attacks look like a mosquito bite on behalf of a country Washington still doesn’t regard as worth that candle, the war needs to end ASAP. And here’s a plan (or as they like to say in the political and policy worlds, a “framework”) that might do the trick.
First, an immediate ceasefire is declared, and then enforced by troops from some of the large developing countries that have voted to condemn the Russian invasion but failed so far to provide Ukraine with any support (like India or Indonesia or Brazil).
Second, (and the sequencing of the following steps can take any number of forms), NATO announces that it will never admit Ukraine as a member, But NATO and other countries reserve the right to provide Kyiv with as much in the way of conventional armaments (including systems considered as “offensive”) as they wish.
Third (Version A), Russia gets to keep the Crimea but agrees that the the two eastern Ukrainian provinces with the big ethnic Russian populations will decide their own fates in internationally supervised referenda. In addition, any inhabitants of all three regions who wish to leave either before or after such votes get relocation assistance (preferably to Ukraine, but other European countries should feel free to take them in, too). The funding would come partly from the West (mainly by the European members of NATO), and partly from a percentage of revenues earned by Russia from the dropping of sanctions on Russian energy exports.
Third (Version B), same as above but Russia simply gets to keep the two eastern provinces and Crimea outright. Again, however, emigration by any of their inhabitants is funded by the West and by those Russian energy revenues. For the record, I like version A best.
Fourth, Russia drops its objections to Ukraine joining the European Union (EU).
Fifth, in order to enable Ukraine to maximize the economic benefits of EU membership, the West (again, mainly the European members of NATO) commits to large economic aid and reconstruction packages dependent largely on Kyiv’s progress in rooting out corruption. I’d also be in favor of empowering the donors to bypass the Ukrainian government in financing worthy recipients directly, to ensure that Ukrainian officials don’t steal most of the assistance.
Sixth, non-energy sanctions on doing any kind of business with Russia are phased out contingent on the absence of Russian aggressive actions against Ukraine (including efforts by Russian-funded paramilitary groups to destabilize Ukrainian territory). That is, the longer Moscow behaves well toward Ukraine, the more sanctions get dropped.
Seventh, the West agrees not to prosecute any Russian officials (including military officers) for war crimes.
Eighth and last, Russia and NATO begin negotiations to explore ideas for new arrangements that longer term could further enhance the security both of Russia and its European neighbors, including the Balkans and Moldova. These initiatives should be led by the Europeans.
Because the above proposals are just a framework, and neither set in stone nor presented in any great degree of detail, I’m absolutely open to suggestion regarding modifications, refinements, and additions. But for anyone wishing to pony up their ideas, I hope they consider first and foremost the needs to (a) defuse an exceedingly dangerous current situation with frightening potential to damage the American homeland gravely; (b) give both Russia and Ukraine significant reasons to claim at least partial victories; and (c) realize how easy it is to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
And on that last point, I hope that Ukraine war hawks and others who stress the imperatives of punishing any and all aggressions, and/or forcing the Russians to pay serious penalties for their invasion, and ensuring that Russia in the future becomes to weak to endanger Ukraine or any other country ever again, would keep the following in mind: The current regime in Moscow is so mismanaging the country and wasting its considerable resources (especially human), that it’s doing a great job of diminishing its power and potential all by itself.