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A Peace Settlement to the Ukraine War


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I'm starting another untimely early thread on Ukraine to go with the "Lessons Learned" one, somewhat inspired by the untimely demands of peace protesters (honest or otherwise) for negotiations rather than arms deliveries; just so we're prepared when the prospect may become realistic next year or so. The ideas of said protesters seem to be rather cloudy at any rate, based at best on hopeful idealism rather than the interests at play. Basic thoughts:

- Obviously only Ukraine and Russia can negotiate, though others may push them to and act as intermediaries or advocates.

- Wars usually stop (at least temporarily) when one side runs out of troops, weapons or will. Both sides here can probably keep rearming, including from friendly third nations, which will likely see Ukraine gain overall technological superiority with Western systems. However, the latter has less manpower to draw on. Then again, Putin must use his greater manpower ressources carefully, lest he loses domestic support; because for considerable time ahead, the Ukrainian popular will to defend their nation is likely to remain greater than the Russian will to feed bodies into this colonial adventure.

- Barring such loss of will, Russia can only have an interest in serious negotiations if they stand to lose more than they had before the invasion; in particular, pre-2014 Donbas territory and Crimea.

- OTOH, if it gets to the point where Ukraine stands the chance to retake those territories, they can only have an interest in negotiations if the West threatens to withdraw support.

- The West can only have an interest to make Ukraine stop short of retaking its entire legitimate territory according to the much-touted rules-based global order if it fears the war will spread to involve it directly and/or go nuclear.

- Russia will only go for negotiation over such escalation if it stands to gain more from the former than the latter. Which should be a no-brainer since even being thrown back to your own legitimate territory beats the risk of annihilation as a nation in nuclear war; but the way they have acted to arrive at this situation, it probably bears mention.

- Ukraine will only accept a negotiation result which will either see the return of their entire legitimate territory to at least notional national control, and/or guarantees for their security rather more substantial than the Budapest Memorandum.

There is obviously a logical shortcut here which would best meet the ideas of the peace camp that "the West" should go for negotiations rather than more weapons: The West tells Russia that if they withdraw to pre-2014 lines, we will make Ukraine negotiate for the status of the remaining occupied territory under threat of withdrawing support. However, conditions listed above are likely to trump logic, and the end result must not be negotiations for the sake of it, but a lasting settlement. That means war must first be prosecuted to a point where interests converge as above. Then the really difficult part begins.

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20 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

 Basic thoughts:

- Wars usually stop (at least temporarily) when one side runs out of troops, weapons or will. 

- Barring such loss of will, Russia can only have an interest in serious negotiations if they stand to lose more than they had before the invasion; in particular, pre-2014 Donbas territory and Crimea.

- OTOH, if it gets to the point where Ukraine stands the chance to retake those territories, they can only have an interest in negotiations if the West threatens to withdraw support.

- The West can only have an interest to make Ukraine stop short of retaking its entire legitimate territory according to the much-touted rules-based global order if it fears the war will spread to involve it directly and/or go nuclear.

- Russia will only go for negotiation over such escalation if it stands to gain more from the former than the latter. Which should be a no-brainer since even being thrown back to your own legitimate territory beats the risk of annihilation as a nation in nuclear war; but the way they have acted to arrive at this situation, it probably bears mention.

- Ukraine will only accept a negotiation result which will either see the return of their entire legitimate territory to at least notional national control, and/or guarantees for their security rather more substantial than the Budapest Memorandum.

There is obviously a logical shortcut here which would best meet the ideas of the peace camp that "the West" should go for negotiations rather than more weapons: The West tells Russia that if they withdraw to pre-2014 lines, we will make Ukraine negotiate for the status of the remaining occupied territory under threat of withdrawing support. However, conditions listed above are likely to trump logic, and the end result must not be negotiations for the sake of it, but a lasting settlement. That means war must first be prosecuted to a point where interests converge as above. Then the really difficult part begins.

Basic answers:

1) Wars stop when either side loses the will to fight or it's conquered to such a point that no free territory remains - the second option is out, as neither side can overpower the other, so that leaves will.

2) It is in the interest of Russia to stop the war now, while it holds the "land bridge" that it can negotiate away in exchange for keeping Crimea (which is the only place worth having if you are Russia) and setting up a demilitarized zone - yet they won't do it, becuase it will mean the end of Russky Mir

3) Ukraine objectives need not be cut back from the retaking of all their land insofar as they have Western support, which will continue for the foreseeable future - as it is a cheap way for the US to contain Russia since very little actual outlays have been needed so far (weapons come from stocks already paid, there's no manpower at risk)

4) Therefore, neither side is motivated to give up, and both are fully into the "sunk cost fallacy" (see the interviews with combatants from both sides) - as I have pointed out, this is the XXI century equivalent of the 1st Gulf War - much fighting over little of value.

5) To break the stalemate, either side needs to develop a serious offensive capability: multi-divisional, including combat support with the means to deny the use of airpower to the other side and able to defeat enemy air defences in depth. Russia can more easily do this as the hardware is lying around but it would require real mobilisation and training of cadres - in short, go all out for war and stop "special military operations" and private wars - so it's still a hard road that will take at least a year. Ukraine conceivably is building its reserves, but I just don't see the amount of hardware they need to pull it off coming around from anywhere.

6) The easiest and best way out of this war for both sides is what Sanna Marin said.

Edited by RETAC21
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21 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

I'm starting another untimely early thread on Ukraine to go with the "Lessons Learned" one, somewhat inspired by the untimely demands of peace protesters (honest or otherwise) for negotiations rather than arms deliveries; just so we're prepared when the prospect may become realistic next year or so. The ideas of said protesters seem to be rather cloudy at any rate, based at best on hopeful idealism rather than the interests at play. Basic thoughts:

There is obviously a logical shortcut here which would best meet the ideas of the peace camp that "the West" should go for negotiations rather than more weapons: The West tells Russia that if they withdraw to pre-2014 lines, we will make Ukraine negotiate for the status of the remaining occupied territory under threat of withdrawing support. However, conditions listed above are likely to trump logic, and the end result must not be negotiations for the sake of it, but a lasting settlement. That means war must first be prosecuted to a point where interests converge as above. Then the really difficult part begins.

In all seriousness, what are you on?  How much is the Russian Duma/Putin paying you and what is your vested interest in seeing Ukraine annexed by Tussia?

Edited by Mike1158
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2 minutes ago, seahawk said:

Russia will win, unless there is turmoil inside Russia and they fall into a Civil War.

Seriously: this is impossible, now and one year ago.

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38 minutes ago, RETAC21 said:

Seriously: this is impossible, now and one year ago.

There I disagree, it seems impossible for people in the West, but not in Russia. The life of Russian peasants is cheap and society is accepting a lot more causalities than in the West. You can already see this on social media. One would expect that big causalities in such a pointless war, would increase the opposition to the war, but in reality those causalities create a desire to sent more Russian soldiers to punish the Ukrainians for killing Russians.

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58 minutes ago, Mike1158 said:

In all seriousness, what are you on?  How much is the Russian Duma/Putin paying you and what is your vested interest in seeing Ukraine annexed by Tussia?

I think that's a first for me. 😄

Just in case any other latecomers are wondering, I'm all for Ukraine driving Russia out of the last square inch of their occupied territory, including Sevastopol. I do have some doubts though whether other than on basic principles of national sovereignty and international law (compelling reasons, to be sure) that's a worthwhile investment in blood and treasure, given that there's likely little popular support for liberation in the pre-2014 territories at this point.

Some sort of accomodation for pro-Russian feelings there which started it all to begin with will have to be found anyway, unless Ukraine wants to fight Russian-supported public unrest, possibly even insurgencies on end. So I'm wondering whether a realistic chance exists to limit the war to the shortest possible time before starting negotiations with a lasting result. I fully agree with Sanna Marin's beautifully concise statement, I just don't see it happening before the conditions I outlined converge.

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29 minutes ago, seahawk said:

There I disagree, it seems impossible for people in the West, but not in Russia. The life of Russian peasants is cheap and society is accepting a lot more causalities than in the West. You can already see this on social media. One would expect that big causalities in such a pointless war, would increase the opposition to the war, but in reality those causalities create a desire to sent more Russian soldiers to punish the Ukrainians for killing Russians.

It is the same in Ukraine, every death brings a desire to make the invaders pay for it, but that's just a recipe to make the war last, it doesn't mean that Russia's position is improving vs Ukraine.

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1 minute ago, BansheeOne said:

Some sort of accomodation for pro-Russian feelings there which started it all to begin with will have to be found anyway, unless Ukraine wants to fight Russian-supported public unrest, possibly even insurgencies on end. 

This assumes the Ukrainians go about it in the "Western" way, and to be fair, there's little indication they will. Once you get the SBU working on the locals, they can either leave or be quiet.

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24 minutes ago, RETAC21 said:

It is the same in Ukraine, every death brings a desire to make the invaders pay for it, but that's just a recipe to make the war last, it doesn't mean that Russia's position is improving vs Ukraine.

Yes, but Russia has a lot more warm bodies it could throw into the fight.

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9 minutes ago, seahawk said:

Yes, but Russia has a lot more warm bodies it could throw into the fight.

It does? it has lots of bodies, but seems unable to bring itself to take this war seriously, everything is half-hearted or piecemeal.

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1 minute ago, RETAC21 said:

It does? it has lots of bodies, but seems unable to bring itself to take this war seriously, everything is half-hearted or piecemeal.

The problem is that this will change, the better the Ukrainians perform.

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35 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

I think that's a first for me. 😄

Just in case any other latecomers are wondering, I'm all for Ukraine driving Russia out of the last square inch of their occupied territory, including Sevastopol. I do have some doubts though whether other than on basic principles of national sovereignty and international law (compelling reasons, to be sure) that's a worthwhile investment in blood and treasure, given that there's likely little popular support for liberation in the pre-2014 territories at this point.

Some sort of accomodation for pro-Russian feelings there which started it all to begin with will have to be found anyway, unless Ukraine wants to fight Russian-supported public unrest, possibly even insurgencies on end. So I'm wondering whether a realistic chance exists to limit the war to the shortest possible time before starting negotiations with a lasting result. I fully agree with Sanna Marin's beautifully concise statement, I just don't see it happening before the conditions I outlined converge.

I guessed you were talking tongue in cheek so thought I'd respond in kind.  Intent is always easy to misconstrue.  Having said that I was  a bit overboard, sorry for that.  I have simple views on stuff like this, we SHOULD as a species be so much better than this situation.  My dyslexic typing fingers I am alopne responsible for, that and not checking before I hit 'post'.

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1 hour ago, RETAC21 said:

This assumes the Ukrainians go about it in the "Western" way, and to be fair, there's little indication they will. Once you get the SBU working on the locals, they can either leave or be quiet.

Accepted, but that gives Russia a somewhat legitimate complaint about treatment of its lost-again compatriots to build up to the next intervention down the road. Yeah, they will probably do that anyway, but that brings us to the point of Western post-war security guarantees. A Ukraine with not just no unsettled territorial business, but also observing said Western way domestically, is a much better case for eventual NATO, and particularly EU, membership. I'd argue that less than that would result in pretty much the same Western obligations while being more controversial, and actually make direct confrontation with Russia more likely.

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1 hour ago, Sardaukar said:

Now we just need @glenn239 and @Strannikto come and tell how partial mobilizations and recruitment from prisons (while all that could did a runner) is perfectly normal.

Back in the day we used to hang out at the Red Devil's clubhouse in Hamilton a bit, (had some friends in the Devils).  The Devils in biker culture were respected as a traditional club, very longstanding, but not a club into traditional biker economic activities.  They were on good terms with the Hells Angels, so every now and again some Angels would stop by to party with my friends.  So we'd be drinking with the Angels on occasion.  My impression was that these were some of the toughest individuals I've ever met.   So, when I hear that the Russians are recruiting from prisons, I think back on how tough I felt these guys were, and this causes me to conclude they'd be really good soldiers. 

 

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10 minutes ago, glenn239 said:

  My impression was that these were some of the toughest individuals I've ever met.   So, when I hear that the Russians are recruiting from prisons, I think back on how tough I felt these guys were, and this causes me to conclude they'd be really good soldiers. 

 

Being the biggest bully with the largest tattoos does not equal to being a good soldier. 

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2 hours ago, seahawk said:

The problem is that this will change, the better the Ukrainians perform.

Im beginning to doubt that. I think what we have now is peak Russia. They will keep throwing warm bodies at the problem like its 1942, and hope it will work. Maybe they will get some more villages, but frankly so what. Its not worth the cost whatever they get.

You know, I do find these kind of discussions rather awkward. There is really only one country that can seriously discuss peace, and thats Ukraine. Ultimately a 'way out of the war' will only work if it guarantees Ukraines borders. As they have already signed 4 agreements to that end, none of which appear to have worked, one cannot excuse them as thinking the best way to ensure peace is keep killing Russians. Because we know damn well Putin will regard any agreement as just a springboard to more annexed territory. Any agreement that doest is simply something he wont sign.

I cant see any realistic progress till Putin is gone. I think the Ukrainians have probably figured they may as well fight to the end, because anything less than complete victory will be the end anyway. And to be honest, I dont think anyone other than a Brit or a Pole is really going to grasp that fact.

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4 hours ago, RETAC21 said:

Basic answers:

1) Wars stop when either side loses the will to fight or it's conquered to such a point that no free territory remains - the second option is out, as neither side can overpower the other, so that leaves will.

Ukraine cannot overpower Russia.  It remains to be seen whether Russia can overpower Ukraine.  They certainly believe they can.

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2) It is in the interest of Russia to stop the war now, while it holds the "land bridge" that it can negotiate away in exchange for keeping Crimea (which is the only place worth having if you are Russia) and setting up a demilitarized zone - yet they won't do it, becuase it will mean the end of Russky Mir

Russia has no interest in stopping the war now.  They will continue their strategy of attrition, spiralling the Ukrainian tank and artillery forces into ineffectiveness even while scaling up their own firepower complexes. This will allow them to increase the attrition ratio to a level where the Ukrainian army simply falls apart.  For whatever support the West offers, the Russians will ask the Chinese to help offset it.  

Ukraine does have an interest in ending the war now, but Zelensky does not for reasons of personal prestige and accountability, (if the war ends, the casualty scandal will follow and Zelensky may even face criminal charges).  That is to say, Putin's personal interests are considerably more in harmony with Russian interests than Zelensky's are with Ukrainian ones.

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4) Therefore, neither side is motivated to give up, and both are fully into the "sunk cost fallacy" (see the interviews with combatants from both sides) - as I have pointed out, this is the XXI century equivalent of the 1st Gulf War - much fighting over little of value.

The Russians will seek to break the logjam by causing the collapse of the Ukrainian army.  

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5) To break the stalemate, either side needs to develop a serious offensive capability: multi-divisional, including combat support with the means to deny the use of airpower to the other side and able to defeat enemy air defences in depth. Russia can more easily do this as the hardware is lying around but it would require real mobilisation and training of cadres

IMO, the easiest way for Russia to weaken the Ukrainian army sufficiently to reach the Dniepner is to drop the bridges over the Dniepner.  Why they've not done so by this point is anyone's guess, but the option remains and logistically it would be utterly devastating.

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11 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Im beginning to doubt that. I think what we have now is peak Russia. They will keep throwing warm bodies at the problem like its 1942, and hope it will work. Maybe they will get some more villages, but frankly so what. Its not worth the cost whatever they get.

You know, I do find these kind of discussions rather awkward. There is really only one country that can seriously discuss peace, and thats Ukraine. Ultimately a 'way out of the war' will only work if it guarantees Ukraines borders. As they have already signed 4 agreements to that end, none of which appear to have worked, one cannot excuse them as thinking the best way to ensure peace is keep killing Russians. Because we know damn well Putin will regard any agreement as just a springboard to more annexed territory. Any agreement that doest is simply something he wont sign.

I cant see any realistic progress till Putin is gone. I think the Ukrainians have probably figured they may as well fight to the end, because anything less than complete victory will be the end anyway. And to be honest, I dont think anyone other than a Brit or a Pole is really going to grasp that fact.

The question is can Russia throw warm bodies at the problem longer than the Ukraine and longer than the West keeps supporting the Ukraine - I would not rule that out.

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