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What Does the West Want in Ukraine?

Author: Richard Haass

Affiliation: President of the Council on Foreign Relations

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs 

Date/place: April 22, 2022/Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2215



Keywords: Russia, Ukraine, Peace Deal, War 




Many politicians and diplomats have been looking for a way to solve the Ukraine-Russia conflict, however all debates focus on the quantity and quality of military aid being provided to Ukraine, establishing a no-fly zone, or sanctioning Russia economically. Few have talked enough about what either country will have to forfeit to end this ongoing war. Richard Haass seeks in this article to draw up different scenarios that could end the war. Haass mentions two possibilities of how the war could end: either with legal documents that address territory and economic agreements, or the conflict will just decompress and end without a formal peace. The West views success as ending the war as soon as possible on terms that must be discussed by the US, the EU and NATO. Any peace agreement composed between the two countries will not only be determined by Ukraine but many others as well. The author provides three potential scenarios. First, one in which the Russian military will realize its ambitions and Putin may revamp his aims for the higher. This, however, will not be accepted by any legitimate Ukrainian government. The second is an overly optimistic scenario in which Russia will go back to how the situation was before the invasion; a scenario that favours Russia but could be acceptable to Ukraine as well. This scenario would be strongly supported by Ukraine also agreeing to not join NATO. A third scenario would be one in which the Ukrainian military succeeds to oust Russian troops and regains all the sovereign territory it had lost even after 2014. However, it would be impossible for Putin to accept such an outcome, and Ukraine would most probably still face missile and artillery attacks, cyberattacks and political interference. This last scenario would most probably occur only in a post-conflict or post-Putin era. Haass discusses two main lessons that American foreign policy employed during the Cold War and is following now. First, avoid direct armed contact unless interests are threatened. This is seen in the way the US has reacted, providing arms to Ukraine and sanctioning Russia, but not setting a foot in Ukraine. Second, accepting substandard outcomes to avoid threatening critical interests. The author states a formal peace agreement should not be the goal right now, but rather the dissipation of hostilities between the two countries enough to end the war. 

By: Sara El Souhagy, CIGA Research Intern



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