What Happens If Putin Rejects Peace?

Global leaders advocate for negotiations amid ongoing conflict

by Zain ul Abedin
What Happens If Putin Rejects Peace?
© Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third tumultuous year with casualties soaring into the hundreds of thousands, the debate intensifies in the U.S. about the best approach to take - negotiations for peace or continued support for Ukraine's resistance against Russia’s aggressive expansion.

Among certain factions within the Republican Party, particularly the MAGA wing, the stance is increasingly towards halting military aid in favor of initiating peace talks. This sentiment is echoed by segments of the anti-war left and some self-described "realists" who suggest that American assistance emboldens Ukraine excessively, leading to a prolonged conflict with Russia at the expense of Ukrainian lives.

Representative Eli Crane (R-AZ) has been vocal about his opposition to military aid for Ukraine, advocating instead for a push toward negotiation. Critics argue that diminishing support would force Ukraine to seek a compromise, possibly conceding territory currently under Russian control and promising never to join NATO.

The U.S. would ensure these terms to bring an end to the violence finally. In a recent article in The Nation, Adolph Reed Jr. criticized President Biden's aggressive stance in Eastern Europe, accusing the administration of exacerbating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Reed's argument overlooks the complexities of Russia’s unprovoked invasion in 2022 and Ukraine’s determined resistance, instead presenting an oversimplified narrative of American provocation and Ukrainian subservience.

Misplaced Calls for Peace

Foreign Affairs contributors Samuel Charap and Jeremy Shapiro propose that both Kyiv and Moscow should signal their willingness for peace, suggesting limited war aims on Russia's part and readiness to negotiate.

However, they, too, fail to address the potential for Russia to renege on agreements, as historically evidenced by their actions post-2014 Crimea annexation. Global leaders like Brazilian President Lula da Silva and even Pope Francis have suggested that Ukraine should negotiate now despite the clear risk of Russian duplicity.

This advice seems out of touch with the ground realities and Vladimir Putin's evident expansionist policies. Putin's administration continues to assert aggressive territorial claims, as highlighted by Dmitry Medvedev's recent portrayal of Ukraine as part of Russia.

Ukraine, demonstrating resilience and sovereignty, shows no inclination towards surrender, despite the narratives spun by some Western factions that underplay Ukraine's agency and portray it as a puppet of Western interests. The reality of the situation underscores a grim persistence on Russia's part to dominate, not negotiate.