Ukraine War, May 8, 2023: The continuing illusion of “negotiations”; wishful thinking and potential appeasement in Ukraine

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To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, and you will see a list in chronological order.

To understand the broad context within which current developments in Ukraine should be considered,see

“Ukraine War, October 26, 2022: The context for analysis of current developments; The “dirty bomb” as a Russian propaganda distraction from current war crimes,” The Trenchant Observer, October 26, 2022.


1) Bojan Pancevski (Berlin), Laurence Norman ( Berlin), and Vivian Salama (Washington), “U.S. and Allies Look at Potential China Role in Ending Ukraine War; An expected offensive by Ukraine is seen as paving way for negotiations with Russia,” Wall Street Journal, updated May 7, 2023 (2:45 pm ET);


Bojan Pancevski, Laurence Norman, and Vivian Salama of the Wall Street Journal report that U.S. National Security Officials (i.e., Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser) are now receptive to China helping to mediate a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine. Certain European leaders reportedly share this view (unnamed, but probably French and German).

The U.S. NSC officials are responding to the fact that as the war drags out, they are uncertain as to whether support for Ukraine from the West can be maintained at current levels. The Journal notes,

The supply of ammunition is a key problem because Western industrial capacity has proven unable to meet its own demands while supporting Ukraine, several officials and industry leaders said.

We are talking about “Western industrial capacity” without moving to an emergency war production economy.

Assuming Ukraine makes significant gains in its upcoming counter-offensive, so the thinking goes, President Biden is likely to suggest to Volodymyr Zelenski that now would be a good time for negotiations.

The Journal reports further that the White House is thinking Ukraine may have to make territorial concessions. The authors write,

The aim is for Ukraine to regain important territory in the south, a development that could be interpreted as a success even if Russia retains chunks of territory its forces have occupied.

“The military aid dispatched to Ukraine is designed to put Kyiv in a stronger negotiating position,” the Journal reports.

The Journal notes,

The interest in negotiations brings Washington in closer alignment with some European countries, which are eager to see the conflict end, or at the very least moderate in intensity, and have been the most intent on discussing some resolution this year.

The White House clings to the illusion of a negotiated settlement to the war. A resolution this year would certainly help President Joe Biden in his campaign for re-election in 2024.

Yet it is all wishful thinking which ignores basic realities.

Ukraine is not likely to willingly accept any territorial concessions.

Such concessions would greatly undermine the norms of international law and the U.N. Charter which prohibit the international use of force and the recognition of any territorial gains achieved by military foThe law of the Charter and international law governing the use of force is of critical importance in maintaining international peace and security. Any abandonment of its basic peremptory norms could lead to wars of aggression in a number of places in the world, including Taiwan.

The Wall Street Journal also reveals a fundamental flaw in U.S. strategy toward the Ukraine: a failure to understand what is really at stake in the war, and a failure to take emergency actions, such as the sufficient production of munitions, that are required for Ukraine, the West, and the U.N. Charter-based international legal order to prevail in Ukraine’s war of self-defense against Russian aggression.

Biden has not yet accepted the goal of victory in this struggle, with victory being defined as Russian withdrawal of its troops from all of Ukraine together with a cessation of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian targets, and  reparations.

Officials like Jake Sullivan are used to resolving differences within Washington with clever words. That will not work in Ukraine.

Biden, Sullivan, and Anthony Blinken may think they can muddle through the challenge of the Ukraine War.

Yet they may be mistaken, as they were on the Afghanistan withdrawal decision.

They could lose the 2024 presidential election, particularly if the Republicans end up with a candidate other than Donald Trump. A Republican victory  would be a victory for Vladimir Putin and Russia.

The Trenchant Observer


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