Putin won’t negotiate. Russia’s total defeat in Ukraine will end the war

, by Vladyslav Faraponov

Putin won't negotiate. Russia's total defeat in Ukraine will end the war
Credit: Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, 2015, Wikimedia Commons

In response to Russia’s sham referenda in four partially occupied regions of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s President, confirmed there would be no peace talks with the current Russian leadership.

In March, during his first foreign trip since the Kremlin launched the full-scale war, U.S. President Joe Biden said: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”. Many in Ukraine, at that time, thought that it would mean helping Ukraine reach its victory in the war and also ensuring Russia’s domestic power shift. In less than 24 hours, the White House clarified that Biden actually did not mean what he said. Now, more than seven months into the brutal and unjustified war, Ukrainians still wish Biden meant what he said.

Putin knew there would be no negotiations after the referendums. Zelensky warned him about it several times. There is no point for Ukraine in accepting Russia’s ultimatums and letting Russians keep the status quo as Kyiv continues its successful counterattack to liberate cities and villages in the east and south that Russia managed to seize. Putin just needed a formal way to accuse Ukraine of not accepting the offer of “goodwill” and claim that it was Zelensky who refused to talk. On the contrary, Ukraine’s leadership reiterated many times that they are ready to negotiate and even arrange the Zelensky-Putin meeting, but on equal terms.

Putin used the same strategy in 2014 while annexing Crimea and Russia, claiming that the referendum in the peninsula was held following international law standards and the UN Charter. But there are three significant differences this time. First, Moscow does not control the whole territory where it arranged those sham referenda. Second, the amount of U.S.-led Western support to Ukraine makes a difference on the battlefield in 2022. However, in 2014, the West was not as committed to helping Ukraine. Third, Putin’s “partial mobilization” won’t help him, as Ukraine advances while Russian men flee the country to avoid going to war.

Zelensky stresses that all Ukraine needs are weapons, and if the Western leaders have the opportunity, force Putin to sit down at the negotiating table. However, that was before the so-called referendums. Now Kyiv needs only weapons to deter the Russian military. There are no illusions in Ukraine about it. It will cost lives. But the country does have another choice. Ukraine’s deocupations of Izum in the Kharkiv region in early September and in Bucha in early April, proved the brutality and horrors of Russian occupation. At the same time, Ukrainian officials and people don’t doubt that they will achieve ultimate victory, even if the war can rage on for years in various forms.

In the event of a prolonged war, Ukraine will likely need twice as much military aid to force Russians to retreat from Ukraine’s territory within the internationally recognized borders and deoccupy even the Crimean peninsula. In that regard, the support of the West, and the U.S. in particular, would be even more significant to continue the de-occupation.

Every day since February 24, 2022, has been a choice for Russian elites and Putin’s inner circle. A choice between the abyss that Russia is heading further into with this war, retreating from Ukraine. The protests in major cities after the announced mobilization in Russia shed light on the true attitude of Russians towards the war. They still don’t want their people to die in a senseless war. But it is still not enough. The sooner Russians understand that Putin needs to be replaced, the fewer reparations the Russians will need to pay to Ukraine.

At the same time, another series of Russian attacks on energy and other critical infrastructure are aimed at making Zelensky and the whole of Ukraine surrender. Russia wanted Ukraine to give up ideas on restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders from 1991-2014, including recognizing Crimea as part of Russia. However, Ukraine is winning on the battlefield, so it is only a matter of time before all lands are de-occupied. Putin publicly confessed it was he who gave that order to attack the very downtown in Kyiv and energy facilities all over Ukraine.

But this time is critical for Ukraine, as the winter is approaching and energy issues will be a challenge for Ukrainians in practical life, but in the economy too, as the government and businesses cannot operate properly due to power outages. Therefore, Ukraine won’t be able to withstand on its own during this hard winter, but Kyiv also expects partners to realize it is impossible to negotiate with the current regime after what happened and still happens.

Russia’s internal coup and military defeat in Ukraine are imminent. Vladimir Putin won’t negotiate, considering this as his personal miscalculation and humiliation. With every additional day of war, Ukraine will likely negotiate with another President of Russia, as Ukrainians will withstand as long as it takes.

In that case, the West is left with few options but to continue supporting Ukraine despite the heavy expenses. Ukraine pays a much higher price. In the interests of the entire world, this man should not remain in power.

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