Ukraine War, March 26, 2022 (II): A public bidding war on concessions to Putin for a ceasefire? U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss should just shut up



1) Edward Malnick, “Crippling’ sanctions could be lifted if Russia withdraws from Ukraine, says Liz Truss; Foreign Secretary indicates a possible ‘off ramp’ for Vladimir Putin, provided he agrees to ‘no further aggression’,” The Telegraph, March 26, 2022:(8:00 p,m,);


As helpful as it was for foreign ministers and government leaders to speak out individually in favor of stronger sanctions to deter or punish Putin and Russia, a public bidding war on concessions to Putin in exchange for a ceasefire and withdrawal agreement promises to bring disastrous results.

There is no room for 30 or 40 leaders or prime ministers to independently propose settlement terms to induce Putin to stop fighting.

Malnick reports that U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has just offered her own independent proposal:

Britain could lift sanctions crippling Russia if Vladimir Putin withdraws from Ukraine and commits to “no further aggression”, Liz Truss has said.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary set out a blueprint for the so-called “off ramp” that the Russian president could be offered to halt his assault on Ukraine.

Ms Truss – who revealed that she has established a “negotiations unit” in the Foreign Office to aid future peace talks – said sanctions on Russian banks, firms and oligarchs could be lifted in the event of “a full ceasefire and withdrawal”.

Putin would also have to agree to refrain from future military aggression, with the threat of “snapback sanctions” which could instantly be slapped back onto Russia.

Ms Truss’ intervention is the first official confirmation that Britain could lift its sweeping sanctions as part of a peace settlement between Russia and Ukraine.

Her latest comments chime with remarks by Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, who said that US sanctions against Russia were “not designed to be permanent” and could “go away” if Moscow changes its behaviour.

This is precisely the scenario Putin envisioned when he launched the invasion of Ukraine.

Even more alarming is the suggestion that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is thinking along similar lines.

Blinken and other members of Biden’s foreign policy team should be replaced as soon as possible. They have brought us one disaster after another, from the Afghanistan withdrawal decision to the policy of taking force off the table in responding to Russian aggression, to the Polish Mig 29’s transfer denial, to the failed deterrence approach of graduated economic sanctions within a “rational actor” paradigm.

From a political point of view, if Democratic Senators and Congressmen don’t force Biden to reconstitute his foreign policy team, they are likely to suffer large losses at the polls in November 2022. Current polls are no indication of what public sentiment will be as Biden’s “bystander” policies play out and their consequences are shown on television every day.

Just as the sanctions have been closely coordinated behind closed doors, the debate over concessions should be held behind closed doors, and kept private until after discussions with Volodymyr Zelensky and the government of Ukraine.

It is the Ukrainians who have been paying the costs of Putin’s invasion, in lives, blood, sweat, and tears, and it is they who should agree before the West puts down any of its economic weapons.

There are important issues that must be addressed in any ceasefire agreement, such as figuring out how to make Russia pay war reparations for the wanton killing it has done and the destruction it has caused in Ukraine.

No economic sanctions should be lifted before this issue is worked out to the satisfaction of the Ukrainians.

Liz Truss has gotten out ahead of her headlights.

There’s no diplomatic way to say this: She should just shut up.

The Trenchant Observer

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James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.