After 22 days of fighting, Russia and Ukraine have reached an agreement. a 15 point dealOne such is the resignation of Kyiv to be a NATO member in return for the Russian invasion ending. Yesterday morning saw shelling of infrastructure targets in cities and towns in Ukraine continue. For the first time since war began, Odessa area seaside villages were also hit.
Zelenski claims that Moscow’s position seems more realistic. Russia offered a neutral model to Ukraine similar to the one used by Sweden and Austria. Is it possible to open a window for the peace process?
We see exactly what we would expect of Ukraine under President Zelensky. He has both a strong determination for Ukraine’s defense against unprovoked Russian aggression and reasoned positions during talks with Russia.
It is evident today, with Zelensky’s appeal to Congress for US military aid that could “close the skies over Ukraine”. As a result, Congress has shown a strong, united and even emotional response. It remains to be seen what this means for US policy, especially since President Biden will be visiting NATO and the EU next Wednesday.
However, we also see that Zelensky is reasonable, and even courageous. His willingness to compromise on matters in which a country should not be required to compromise is admirable. Why is it that Ukraine cannot decide for itself whether it wants NATO membership or EU membership? Remember that the whole crisis began when Yanukovych, former president, decided not to join NATO but to have a closer relationship with the EU. Putin is concerned about Ukraine’s adherence to the EU, and its association with wealthy democracies like Spain.
So yes, a possible “neutral” model like Austria or Sweden represents an important component of a possible cessation of hostilities, or even a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia. But it’s still early days and Russia’s continued military offensive with attacks against the civilian population is not over. We do not know whether or not this will be enough for Putin. We also don’t know what verifiable measures Putin is willing to take. And we don’t know what US and EU security guarantees will be provided for Ukraine.
We should also remember that Zelensky seeks security assurances from the West. In the event of another Russian attack, the US and Europe can intervene directly. Let us remember that kyiv already “burned” once by giving up its nuclear weapons in 1994 with the now infamous Budapest Memorandum. After it had given up its nuclear deterrent, those promises were null.
-Will Russia be capable of winning the war while it drags along and NATO continues providing weapons to Ukraine.
It all depends on what “winning the war” means to you. Russia can continue to attack Ukraine directly, civilians, maternity units, and nuclear power plants, as well as buildings and military targets. Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia can continue its brutal, unprovoked attack on Ukraine, so long as Russia is prepared to take the economic loss and accept the hardships of sanctions.
It is important to remember that Russia is not completely isolated in Europe, except for Serbia, a candidate country of the EU that doesn’t align with the EU policy on Russia. Although many countries have joined with the US and EU to apply sanctions, not all of them, including China, India, Pakistan, and several Middle East and African countries, it is not the only one. China is, however, the key. China is the key. If Beijing was to withdraw from Russia, it would greatly limit Putin’s freedom of movement, which would likely stop the violence. China sees this bloody confrontation between Russia and Ukraine as a way to advance its interests, along with the support of kyiv in the EU or the US.
Remember that Javier Solana (ex-Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs) was at the time Secretary General of NATO. The circumstances and conduct of NATO were entirely different from those of the Russian aggression against Kosovo. NATO was quick to show this by working with Belgrade in 2000 in order to suppress an ethnic Albanian uprising within the Presevo valley, southern Serbia.