From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr
Putin will never succeed in bringing all of Ukraine under his control. I am sure that is not his intention either. Contrary to Western assumptions, the man is not a lunatic, far from it – he knows how to play his cards. He is a Machiavellian. Therefore, he also knows what could exceed the forces of his country.
If anyone at all can mediate in this conflict, it is not the Americans, and certainly not the Europeans. Europeans no longer play any role at all in the big decisions. China – to the detriment of the USA – has the decisive key role to play. If Putin listens to anyone at all, it is Chinese leader Xi Jinping. For the same reason, all channels of communication with Putin must be kept open if the war in Ukraine is to be ended as quickly as possible. As things stand, there will be no other way.
Even then, Putin is unlikely to back down from his demands: Recognition of Crimea as Russian territory, the same for the Donbass, but above all: a guarantee by the West of Ukraine’s neutrality. If peace is wanted – and this peace must come – then this is the price that the West will have to pay for its reckless policy of hubris toward Russia.
The only other possibility would be to bring Russia to its knees militarily or, in the end, even economically. Neither seems very realistic, as Biden’s “no” vote on fighter jets from Poland for Ukraine underscores. It would provoke Russia even more with devastating consequences for the whole of Europe. Here, the West is already showing signs of giving in. And the more the West fights Russia with sanctions, the more it brings the majority of patriotic Russians to Putin’s side.
Even the pictures of protests in Moscow do not change that. For more than a generation, the majority of Russians have wondered what the country actually fought for and won in World War II – only to lose so much again afterwards under its own concession. One has to put oneself in this position of Russian patriots – of a country which was, after all, allied with the USA in the last Great War. All this is directly related to the war in Ukraine.
The other victorious nation, the United States, after the destruction of Hitler’s Germany and with far fewer casualties than the Soviet Union, did not shrink a square inch, did not lose power, although it too has since instigated unjust wars in other parts of the world.