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A Peace Settlement to the Ukraine War


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7 hours ago, KV7 said:

Seymour Hersh

... Hungary, ... These countries are all allies of Ukraine and declared enemies of Vladimir Putin.

Orban doesn't seem to have gotten the memo that he's a declared enemy of Putin (and an ally of Ukraine), currently holding the 500M European artillery ammo package hostage to get his bank in Russia off the sanctions hook.

And, Czecheslovakia. 'nuff said.

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That clip is a few weeks old, isn't it? Or more than that even. Either way, she's definitely said that before, in almost exactly those words.

Anyway, I struggle to think of a war in history where the invader has prevailed against an enemy supported by opposing powers.

Given that Ukraine is receiving such broad spectrum support at the moment, I simply can't see the Russians "winning" in the traditional sense. That said, I also can't see them giving up Crimea and Donbass willingly (i.e. at the negotiating table). Therefore, the most likely outcomes are a drawn-out hot war (a la Iran-Iraq), a semi-frozen conflict (a la Ukraine from 2014-2022) or some sort of negotiated settlement that requires Ukraine to accept some territorial concessions.

That or the Russians might collapse economically/politically (I personally don't see a purely military collapse as very likely*).

 

 

* Although, as I'm always keen to remind everyone, I've been wrong before.

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Colour me optimistic,but I think a military collapse is potentially the most likely. I think their morale is very fragile at the moment. We have absolutely no idea what happens if they start getting overrun, but its unlikely to do them much good.

The problem is, everyone looks at these guys as being the guys who never collapsed in WW2. Which may be true, except these guys arent Soviets, and Putin isnt Stalin.

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It's possible, of course. There's no denying that.

It's just that my impression is that the Russians switched to war on the cheap last summer. Hence the use of Wagner to do the heavy lifting while the army holds ground and fires artillery from a distance. Hence the use of dirt-cheap Iranian drones. Hence the rapid reduction in use of any expensive munitions (or maybe I'm wrong and they ran out like everyone's saying).

Now, they may have done this because they had to - i.e. their military is trashed and they need to rebuild what they lost in that first disastrous rush at Kiev. Or they really are scraping the bottom of the barrel. All perfectly possible going on currently available info.

However, I don't really buy any of that. I just don't think the Russians are militarily spent. I think it's much more likely that they'll run out of political (or actual) capital before they run out of kit and soldiers.

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Well if they run out of political capital, you have to ask the question, how many more casualties is it going to take before Putin gets it in the neck? Not that I subscribe to body counts to win a war, but as Russia chose to go that way as a substitute for the high tech kit it clearly has only in trace amounts, the potential is there for Ukraine to go that road.

I think like much else, the Russian position is a facade that needs challenging. And if challenged, I think the wheels will start to come off.

As you say, Ive been wrong before.  We will found out at length im sure.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Well if they run out of political capital, you have to ask the question, how many more casualties is it going to take before Putin gets it in the neck? Not that I subscribe to body counts to win a war, but as Russia chose to go that way as a substitute for the high tech kit it clearly has only in trace amounts, the potential is there for Ukraine to go that road.

I think like much else, the Russian position is a facade that needs challenging. And if challenged, I think the wheels will start to come off.

As you say, Ive been wrong before.  We will found out at length im sure.

I think Russia can take a LOT of casualties without a threat to Putin. Current numbers are rookie numbers, historically. Even without a war, Russia used to purge millions just for fun. Yes, Putin is just a femboy Stalin, but much of that culture - where murder is just another thing that happens and best to lower your profile than to fight back, is still here.

If something in your kitchen is on fire, you try to put it out. If your entire house is burning, you run away. In Russia's case, it's the whole house burning. Has been for a very long time.

There is no Russian nationalism, no direction, no cultural identity, no opposition to the current ruler. If Russians want to fix things, it more often than not manifests in them just immigrating. The Russian bear is gone, it's the Russian headless chicken now.

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3 hours ago, ink said:

Given that Ukraine is receiving such broad spectrum support at the moment, I simply can't see the Russians "winning" in the traditional sense. That said, I also can't see them giving up Crimea and Donbass willingly (i.e. at the negotiating table). Therefore, the most likely outcomes are a drawn-out hot war (a la Iran-Iraq), a semi-frozen conflict (a la Ukraine from 2014-2022) or some sort of negotiated settlement that requires Ukraine to accept some territorial concessions.

 

My impression is that the reason why the support has been what you call a 'broad spectrum' of equipment is that NATO supplies what it can of one type of system, (T-72's, MIG-29's, Javelins, Stingers, HIMARs, artillery, tanks, 155mm ammunition, 152mm ammunition, etc., etc, etc.), the war then promptly chews it up and spits it out to far less result than was hoped, and the Ukrainians come back demanding more replacements for the replacements that now need replacing.  Since NATO is now out of surplus stocks of the previous trinket, they move on to the next trinket.  Storm Shadow is the latest example, a replacement for the increasingly ineffective HIMARs, and is already is performing much more poorly than HIMARs did at first.     What shall be the trinket that replaces the trinket that replaced HIMARs?  We shall see.

Quote

Now, they may have done this because they had to - i.e. their military is trashed and they need to rebuild what they lost in that first disastrous rush at Kiev. Or they really are scraping the bottom of the barrel. All perfectly possible going on currently available info.

From what I understand the Ukrainian counteroffensive is delayed due to lack of equipment and ammunition, and their most recent offensives (back around May 12th) suffered shockingly heavy casualties.  

 

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  • 2 months later...

With the Ukrainian offensive so far failing to deliver on widespread expectations (which obviously might be due to unrealistic expectations), there has been increased talk of negotiations to start this fall in recent weeks. Though IMO the suggestions pushed by both sides are again unrealistically based upon assumptions that the respective other side is about to throw it in and will agree to conditions imagined by the proponents. That goes for the "Zelensky peace plan" that Russia will just withdraw its troops, pay reparations and have its leaders be put on trial for war crimes as much as for ideas around the pro-Russian blogosphere that Russia will simply get everything it had demanded before the war.

There has reportedly been some sounding between the always-helpful "former officials" on the US and Russian side on how such negotiations might look, but obviously any talking for effect would have to be between Russia and Ukraine, and there seems little stomach for that yet. In addition for holding back until a final outcome of the current fighting season emerges, the Wagner mutiny seems to have created some doubt in the West on whether the Putin regime is actually stable and competent enough to negotiate with. OTOH, developments like Igor Girkin getting arrested may indicate a crackdown on domestic hardline critics to prepare the field for a diplomatic solution which the latter would call, in Roman's words, a "conditional surrender". At any rate, I don't think we'll see any peace agreement this year; maybe next, or in 2025 after the US elections.

 

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There seems to be some sort of negotiation, also according to (former) Ukrainian officials:

A former adviser to the Office of the President, Arestovich, admitted the possibility of leaving 20% of the territories seized by Russia, but for the rest of Ukraine to join NATO.

He presents this as one of the ideas that is being discussed now.

"We hold 80% of the territory. It turns out that most of the states, as they promise us, stop the war and join NATO. I can say that this is a super-historic chance," Arestovich said.

He compared this to the history of a divided Germany.

"The FRG-GDR option: the FRG joins the alliance, the GDR is recognized as a territory of Germany, which we will definitely return, but NATO guarantees do not apply to it ... In principle, as long as no one hears us, and we are alone, this is a very good a deal," the former adviser to the Zelensky's Office said on air with journalist Yulia Latynina.

According to him, at the same time, Ukraine will try to liberate its territories "by non-military means" - since a military solution can be carried out only "at the cost of the lives of 200 thousand people of the adult male population, the gene pool, and the completely destroyed economy."

Note that Bankova's official position is the complete liberation of all Ukrainian territories within the 1991 borders.

At the same time, President Volodymyr Zelensky previously admitted that the West plans to use Ukraine's NATO membership for negotiations with Russia.

Edit: link - https://t.me/stranaua/114375

Edited by alejandro_
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NATO membership will be a pretty big chip in any negotiations; so big it might not even be played. Formally, any renunciation would have to be made by Ukraine, since NATO or the US are not going to; it would contradict the principle of free choice of alliance they have defended for 25 years, and of course they can't be seen making decisions for Ukraine at all. They'll probably not even be officially at the table, though some in the aforementioned pro-Russian blogosphere think they should be so Russia can dictate them those pre-war demands, like no foreign NATO troops east of the 1997 line, no US nukes in Europe, etc.

Of course that's again based upon the wishful assumption that the other side is so desparate to get out of this mess that they'll agree to anything. You could of course wrap negotiations on a Ukraine settlement into a greater package on a future European security regime, but Russia might like the outcome even less than what they can expect from a narrow agreement; they're not going to get a deal as good as the NATO-Russia Founding Act again, which was informed by the Western belief that "we need Russia for peace in Europe", since proven absurd.

I'm sure NATO and the US will be more or less openly at the table anyway, and Ukraine will necessarily take its cues from them. But getting an assurance of non-membership would cost Russia a lot, probably at least a return to the pre-2022 if not pre-2014 lines. The "German option" suggested above implies the same, or rather the alternative: a Ukraine with substantial territories remaining under Russian control governed by a stable settlement will wind up in NATO in the long or short term. And in fact Russia might want to accept that so NATO keeps a lid on Ukrainian ambitions to regain those territories by force, as it did for West Germany. Balance of terror, as it was.

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2 hours ago, BansheeOne said:

NATO membership will be a pretty big chip in any negotiations; so big it might not even be played.

IMO Ukraine getting security guarantees from several countries (Israel, Turkey, US) was a good way of getting around this. The other big issue is the annexation of more Ukrainian regions, which has made negotiations more complicated. 

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3 minutes ago, alejandro_ said:

IMO Ukraine getting security guarantees from several countries (Israel, Turkey, US) was a good way of getting around this. The other big issue is the annexation of more Ukrainian regions, which has made negotiations more complicated. 

They had security guarantees in 1993. In the end they amounted to nothing, because none of the people concerned were willing to lift a finger on Ukraines behalf. They arent going to be fooled again with anything less than NATO membership.

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2 minutes ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

 They arent going to be fooled again with anything less than NATO membership.

Back in March 2022 they were ready to accept it. 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-and-russia-hold-talks-as-zelensky-criticizes-west-on-sanctions-arms-11648549561

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I hope not, it will take that much at least to secure their future.

It's not as if Ukraine is the only chapter of this book, Putin is undermining many countries across eastern europe so giving him and his pointless proteges an out just delays the point at which they are taken to task properly and cost many times more than the current expense.

Of course, Russia could just bugger off and leave the countries they have Krept all over alone and go back to the cellar.  Better Russians find a system of government that is not so easily coopted to this type of group rather than take out their paranoia on others.

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58 minutes ago, alejandro_ said:

At which point they had been at war for a month, and Kyiv still appeared in potential danger of falling. Its now a year on, they have thousands of dead, maimed and injured, there seems comparatively little chance of that happening again, so there seems no possiblity that Ukraine will look at it again.

Context is everything here. Why should they accept terms that werent good enough for Russia last year? Why are Ukraine going to accept them now when Russia is very clearly losing?

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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42 minutes ago, alejandro_ said:

That was when Russian troops were within miles of Kiev though, and before they retreated from the entire north of Ukraine, leaving behind a couple village massacres. Unless Russia finds the power for a strategic change of the current situation - which looks even more doubtful than Ukraine doing the same by cutting the land bridge to Crimea within this fighting season right now - we're probably running up against a point where both are fought to practical exhaustion over a line of demarcation they can grudgingly live with. But only if Ukraine can get security guarantees which present an acceptable alternative to continued war.

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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Context is everything here. Why should they accept terms that werent good enough for Russia last year? Why are Ukraine going to accept them now when Russia is very clearly losing?

I would think because Russia has annexed another 3 regions, the offensive is not fulfilling the expectations it created, and Russia has 4-5 times more population? How can Russia be clearly losing? Before the offensive started the talk to was to cut the land bridge to Crimea and so on, so far there has only been a modest advance in Bakhmut. 

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51 minutes ago, alejandro_ said:

I would think because Russia has annexed another 3 regions, the offensive is not fulfilling the expectations it created, and Russia has 4-5 times more population? How can Russia be clearly losing? Before the offensive started the talk to was to cut the land bridge to Crimea and so on, so far there has only been a modest advance in Bakhmut. 

Well, let me answer you with translation from Andrey "Murz" Morozov (https://t.me/ghost_of_novorossia/14119)

"About the previous message (https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/2337 ) i got personal message that the bottleneck that represents the capacity of our rear training centers for the mobilized, the continuation of mobilization somehow does not look like a meaningful event. They say that even so many volunteers go to serve, and this closes a significant part of the "bandwidth" of these very training centers. And what will happen during mobilization?

Let me tell you what will happen without mobilization.

There are already very few people. There are no new personnel, that is, people with the required competencies, at all or vanishingly few. It will take some time, and the enemy will knock out the remnants of people who at least know something and know how, and then, with a complete lack of personnel, no infusions of people will solve anything at all, but they will simply be throwing meat under art and tanks. Completely useless.

In general, the lack of even just people, without any competencies, just men with a full set of arms and legs, capable of at least just carrying something somewhere or standing with a machine gun in the rear guard and guarding the warehouse from an infirm lonely alcoholic with matches, it can suddenly be quite fateful. The problem of "dispersal of ammunition and fuel depots", it rests on this, among other things. As well as in the number of ordinary ordinary sane drivers for heavy trucks capable of pulling loads from railway stations.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the worse the situation with people and personnel, the more the "patchwork war" affects the deterioration of the situation, when regularly prepared replacements do not arrive in the hottest place, compensating for losses in the companies of the same battalion or brigade, and hundreds of different relatively combat-ready pieces from battalions, regiments are caught up, brigades and divisions capable of fielding such "battle groups". There is a loss of quality and speed of control, while the enemy's speed and quality are constantly growing due to the supply of Western equipment, training of command personnel and the presence of foreign advisers.

In general, without further mobilization, the war will end soon enough with the almost complete destruction of the combat-ready part of the army, front breakthroughs, a belated attempt at mobilization, riots of the mobilized, thrown without training and equipment under Ukrainian tanks and the further victorious march of the "International Peacekeeping Forces" on Moscow.

The total capacity of the rear "training centers" does not affect the real effectiveness of mobilization in any way, because here, as a rule, the ancient rule is sacredly observed - "Who knows how - does, who does not know how - teaches, who does not know how to teach - directs."

The success of repelling the first attacks of the "offensive" by mobs in the Zaporozhye direction is largely due to the fact that they, these mobs, including primarily sergeants and junior command staff, were taught a lot, for a long time, persistently on the spot, in those units to which they arrived. And they wrote documents to the rear almost in the style of "Are you ohueli tam vse?" with detailed descriptions of what the sent fighters cannot do. And they taught, taught, taught themselves. According to his front-line experience.

So the most useful thing that happens in most of these "training centers" should be recognized as the awakening of the mobilized brain. They understand that

a. participation in the war is inevitable
b. it is urgent to learn something while there is time
c. it is necessary to equip yourself somehow, because of the equipment, except for a steel helmet and a belt with a pouch for 4 mags, the Motherland will not give anything.

Further - depending on the size and general creative potencies of the awakened gray matter, organizational abilities, and so on.

In general, that now this "bandwidth" has a minimal value, that in a situation of delayed mobilization it will have even less value. Trains with unfortunate mobilized soldiers will go past these training centers immediately to the front, or rather to where it will roll back.

It makes real sense to have time to train mobs directly in those units or divisions that are being withdrawn from the front to rest. Those people who have actual combat experience.
      Yes, the enemy is now suffering quite serious losses. But this is the "investment phase", so to speak. If we do not take at least now the measures that should have been taken for a long time, then by the autumn the enemy will still be able to receive the "dividends" that he expects.

Everything that is happening is bloody "trade space for time", as it is customary to write in English-language literature, "exchange of space for time", it works only as long as those who survived succeed in keeping the front from collapse. People, as before, at the cost of their lives, gain time to make decisions that... not accepted.

The result is a bit predictable with this approach."

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Another opinion from https://t.me/vysokygovorit/12364

"The analysis of the possible prospects for the continuation of the pro-Ukr offencive boils down to two main extremes:

"They will not be able to do anything and will burn their resources uselessly, having achieved nothing, and then we will go on our offensive, which the Ukrainians will have no one to stop, and they will need total mobilization, under tanks with wheels, a rifle for three."

"They competently push through our defense and eventually break through it and will go like an iron avalanche, which there will be no one to stop, so total mobilization will be required, under tanks with wheels, a rifle for three."

Both points of view are far from reality.

The reality is that the Ukrainian retains a fairly serious resource, which, with proper concentration and exploration, can, THEORETICALLY, provide him with a breakthrough. But the second part of this reality is already burning down on the whole front – the forces that should have provided this breakthrough from the very beginning have not achieved the desired result.

And even if there is a breakthrough now, the question arises, which forces will develop success? Khokhl has no more one group in reserve.

And judging by the current NATO supplies, it will not be soon: in order to assemble artillery in the concentration necessary for a breakthrough, it will have to be pulled from the entire front, with corresponding consequences for weakened areas. At the same time, no antidote has yet been found for the UMPK bombs, the Lancet, or the Ka-52.

And supplies from the West now do not compensate for the loss of artillery even close. They take out about 3-4 guns every day, and even if we assume that 2-3 of them can be repaired, and only one is irretrievably lost, then NATO still does not transfer 30 weapons per month, and it is unclear when it will start. The same is the case with engineering equipment: the losses already incurred have not yet been compensated in any way, and for success they need to be not just compensated, but increased at times.

Summarizing, I will say this: Ukrainians can achieve the result, but keeping this result will be a huge, possibly unsolvable problem.

We can and should achieve the result – at the same time, unlike Ukrainians, we have everything in our hands, the defense industry is working. But in order for this result to take place, there is still a long way to go, so for now let them run in the offensive. It will be easier for us in the fall."

    Anyway, with all options, our main problem is not in Kiev or even Washington, but in Moscow. As long as Russia is controlled by people who are focused on reuniting with their villas in London, yaghts on Med and bank accounts in Western banks, we can't win.

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I think “clearly losing” is quite a stretch. But it would be fair to say that the Russians have lost the initiative and despite the slow progress of the ZSU, I believe they have captured more territory in six weeks than the Russians have in the last six months. The risk for Russia isn’t collapsing IMO, it is being perpetually exhausted of its ammunition and equipment in an open ended conflict. The US can probably sustain this level of old equipment and ammunition donations for a couple years now that the 5million rounds of 155mm DPICM have been freed up. That’s more shells than the entire 155mm donation pool to date if I’m not mistaken.

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They are using 60 year old tanks and changing the law so they can call up 75 year old. Their morale is awful, they just had a failed coup, and Putin is purging the Army of half decent commanders. If that's not losing, it's clearly negative equity. :)

 

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1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

They are using 60 year old tanks and changing the law so they can call up 75 year old. Their morale is awful, they just had a failed coup, and Putin is purging the Army of half decent commanders. If that's not losing, it's clearly negative equity. :)

 

Don't forget to add that they are running out of fuel and missiles. 

Ukraine's morale is not that great either according to twitter...
 

 

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1. For negotiations to work, both sides must want a settlement. This simply has not occurred at any point during the war so far, and the current trajectory is unlikely to create such condition in the near future. Ukraine's steady gains and its time advantage vs Russia mean it should logically hold off such negotiations.

2. Ukraine's leadership has the population's backing in holding off negotiations. They want peace, and until the frontline shifts in a way that enables Ukraine to defend itself and deter Russia, and other conditions are met such as security guarantees that are actually physical and not some strongly worded letter, they simply won't support a resolution. Meanwhile, in Russia there is no hunger to prolong the war. The people suffer economically and mentally, without any clear goal or aspirations for this war. 

3. NATO membership, IMO, is not a big item in such negotiations. Behind the scenes both sides understand very well what the other side wants. Ukraine knows Russia wants a way off this tree, and Russia knows Ukraine will want to fortify - first and foremost with a large armed force and with a binding alliance. Talks cannot even begin without both sides principally accepting these terms.

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