Zelensky Wants Direct Talks With Putin To Negotiate

Zelensky Wants Direct Talks With Putin To Negotiate

Zelensky Wants Direct Talks With Putin To Negotiate

Is asking for a direct meeting with Putin a good idea, bad idea, or idea of last resort?

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine probably has the highest popularity rating of any world leader at this point. He’s stayed in Ukraine when other men would have fled. He’s avoided assassination hit squads. He’s kept the plight of his people front and center, begging for help and assistance (and a no-fly zone). Zelensky went and visited wounded soldiers in the hospital as well yesterday. And yet he knows that unless Russia steps over the line, NATO isn’t going to interfere.

Russia is stepping awfully close to that line, though. An attack on a Ukrainian military training facility only ten miles from the Polish border is dancing right up to the edge of chaos – and given that the Russian military doesn’t seem that interested in surgical strikes, it might not take much for a missile to stray over that border and provoke a NATO response.

The airstrike killed 35 people at the facility in Yavoriv about 10 miles from the Polish border early Sunday, far to the west of where the conflict has been concentrated, one day after Moscow warned the West that it would consider arms deliveries to Ukraine as legitimate targets.”

A large portion of the military aid from the West—one of the largest transfers of arms in history—passes through Poland into western Ukraine, part of the fine line the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, allies are walking between aiding Ukraine militarily while steering clear of providing troops or enforcing a no-fly zone that Ukraine has called for.”

The expansion of Russia’s aggression to a target close to Poland also increases the risk of the war encroaching on NATO territory, which the U.S. has warned would be treated as an attack on the alliance. Any strike on Poland would bring “the full force of the NATO alliance to bear in responding to it,” Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said in an interview Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

A missile into Poland is absolutely the point of no return, and even Team Biden knows that. And while Zelensky might secretly welcome a Russian missile hitting Polish soil, he knows he can’t count on that. So Zelensky is left with only hard choices at this moment.

The Ukrainian resistance to Russian occupation, plus Russian military ineptitude, has embarrassed Putin. The economic sanctions will only hold so long as Germany can go without Russian oil and gas. Russia has already turned to China for military assistance, likely in the form of matériel (much the same way Western countries have supported Ukraine). Putin’s dreams of being welcomed as liberators is long well dead, and Russia can only occupy Ukraine by brute force and blood. Zelensky knows that the Ukrainian people will never give in, but they could all end up being killed instead – with a Ukrainian refugee diaspora that may never be able to return (especially if Putin pushes a nuclear button). There’s only so much longer that Ukraine can hold out. And whether it is a good idea, a bad idea, or the idea of last resort, Zelensky knows that in order for this to end, he’s going to have to talk directly to Vladimir Putin.

The next round of the talks on the war in Ukraine between the two neighbors is scheduled for early Monday, via video links. Although officials have been giving upbeat assessments lately, positive results of the negotiations are yet to come.”

Ukraine has repeatedly called for direct talks between Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, pointing to the Russian leader as the one making all final decisions.”

“Our delegation has a clear task – to do everything to ensure a meeting of the presidents. The meeting that I am sure people are waiting for,” Zelenskiy said in his daily video address.”

“Obviously this is a difficult story. A hard path. But this path is needed. And our goal is for Ukraine to get the necessary result in this struggle, in this negotiation work. Necessary for peace. And for security.”

The result, of course, might be the sacrifice of Ukraine’s hopes of joining the European Union quickly, the giving up of the so-called “independent” regions that the Russians have been occupying, and ceding Crimea to Russia altogether. And that would be the best case scenario for Ukraine and Zelensky, because it would be a return to the status quo. But this might also be a face-saving move for Putin as well. Putin has set himself up as a tsarlike autocrat, and unless something goes horribly sideways within Russia proper, he’s going to be the one calling all the shots. Zelensky knows that eventually, if NATO doesn’t intervene, Ukraine will have sustained all the body blows it can take.

Does Putin care about the body count on either side? Not so long as he still has bodies to throw into the fight. Does he care about looking like he won something? Absolutely. Will Zelensky be willing to grovel in order to stroke Putin’s oversized ego and save the lives of Ukrainians? Probably. Does anyone actually win when this is all over? Not in the least.

Featured image: composite image of Volodymyr Zelensky (official portrait via Wikimedia Commons, cropped, Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)) and Vladimir Putin (via Kremlin.ru on Wikimedia Commons, cropped, Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0))

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1 Comment
  • Scott says:

    Well, if NATO does get involved directly, it is highly likely that Putin will push the button. In which case, It’s been nice knowing you all. I live close enough to Colorado Springs that the resulting exchange of missles will likely result in this area reaching a temp similar to that of the sun soon afterwards..
    Such a result would not be good for anyone. But it’s also likely what would happen should a no-fly be declared, because there’s no doubt the Russians would violate it, an soon after be shot down by American / NATO fighters, leading to the above.. Sadly, there is no good way out of this. the current regime being as weak as it is encouraged this aggression, with really no recourse short of all-out war. A strong administration kept this from happening, but now that it’s started, there’s not much we can do to stop it.
    This is what happens when you elect democrats… (name a war in the last century that started when a republican was in office… and no, GWOT doesn’t count)

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