The possible outcomes of the war are the same now as on the first day of it, The American Conservative author Peter Van Buren claims.
Peter Van Buren has penned an analysis on The American Conservative about the lessons of the Russo-Ukrainian war that has been going on since February. As he states at the beginning of his article, from the moment the Russian army crossed the border of Ukraine, there have been only two possible outcomes of the war: either a diplomatic solution is reached that will redraw Ukraine’s borders and thus Russia can retain the strip of land connecting Crimea located to the east of the Dnieper with the mainland, or Russia is pushed back with military and diplomatic means to its starting point in February and to the territories it ruled then. And in both cases, Ukraine would remain a buffer state between NATO and Russia.
According to the author, the above outcomes are the two realistic options despite warnings of a nuclear war or daydreaming about a regime change. Diplomacy could be a necessary and sufficient solution to the crisis—if the warring parties would only realize this and finally sit down at the negotiating table, because
this 20th-century territorial warfare cannot last forever, as both sides will run out of young men to kill.
Van Buren believes that it was never Putin’s goal to seize Kyiv—his goal was to widen the buffer zone between Russia and NATO, which includes Ukraine. According to him, the war is a ‘survival-level action’ for Putin, and it is difficult to imagine him withdrawing without having achieved anything in the end.
The author also explains that sanctions are not important, and never were. In the wake of energy sanctions, oil prices began to rise, which is good for Russia. Van Buren believes that the sanctions are only Potemkin villages for the American public, not real restrictions for Russia—they will not lead to regime change in Moscow. According to Van Buren,
Putin will only resort to diplomatic means when the ‘costs’ of his chosen battle tactics become too high.
And here is one of his weak points:
the Russo-Ukrainian war is based on WWI concepts, which themselves were based on 18th century battle tactics where two armies marched against each other and shot at each other until one side surrendered. However, the 20th century gave us such murderous weapons that turned wars into human meat grinders—in fact, both world wars could only end with the Americans joining the fight.
Therefore, Putin was cautious to launch an invasion that would not give the United States a reason to enter the war directly. According to the author, this is why the way Russians use their weapons is strange, almost comical: that is why the Russian bombers are not coming, why they are not attacking Ukrainian shipping around the globe, and why a huge army is not marching across the whole of Eastern Europe.
According to Van Buren, it is ‘shameful’ that the Biden administration is not forcefully pushing for a diplomatic solution, but is content to bleed out the Russians, as it did in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Just as was the case then, America will provide weapons until the last local falls—and only then can an inevitable negotiated settlement come.
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