The Institute for Peace and Diplomacy hosted a debate titled “Should the West Push for a Negotiated Solution with Russia in the Ukraine War?” on Thursday, August 11, 2022.
Almost six months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russo-Ukrainian war has become a war of attrition with no clear end in sight. On the battlefield, some see Russia’s Donbas push as slowly grinding forward, while others hold out hope for a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. In the broader context, the West hopes that its economic sanctions will begin to bite come this autumn, while Vladimir Putin is placing his bets on gas shortages pressuring Western leaders come the winter. Meanwhile, the November midterm elections in the United States will be a bellwether of general American sentiment toward the war.
The fact that all parties believe time is on their side may limit the risk of escalation for now. But it may not be long before Russia, Ukraine and/or the West are forced to choose between cutting their losses or upping the ante. This raises the question of whether (and when) it might be a good time to pursue a negotiated settlement or a ceasefire to wind down hostilities. Do talks offer genuine prospects for success, or are the belligerents’ aims too incompatible and mutual trust too low for diplomacy to be a prudent approach?
Then there is the question of who are (or should be) the negotiating parties: are any negotiations viable absent the United States, which remains Kyiv’s major backer despite Washington’s lack of forces in Ukraine? Does Europe have the credibility to deliver on any diplomatic resolution given the failures of the Minsk agreements? And, are the Ukrainian and Russian leadership ready and able to make the kind of serious compromises needed to make any resolution work? Do they even have any interest to find a negotiated solution?
There is also the issue of broader strategic interests. Should the West seek accommodation with Russia in order to focus its resources on more pressing geopolitical issues outside of Europe? Or does this war offer the US and its allies a unique opportunity to degrade the foundations of Russian security presence in Europe?
The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD) is pleased to welcome you to this timely debate, which will examine both sides of the argument from an interests-based perspective. Arguing for the motion will be Dr. Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT. Arguing against will be Dr. Andrew Michta, Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany.
- Barry Posen: Ford International Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Andrew Michta: Dean, College of International & Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies