Image credit: NATO, Flickr
By Arta Moeini
For UnHerd, Arta Moeni explores the possible outcomes of the war in Ukraine.
As we begin the second year of the war, it has finally dawned on many in Washington that the likely outcome of this tragedy is stalemate: “We will continue to try to impress upon [the Ukrainian leadership] that we can’t do anything and everything forever,” one senior Biden administration official said this week. For all the talk of Ukrainian agency, that agency depends entirely on Nato’s commitment to continue to support Kyiv’s war effort indefinitely. Such a maximalist desire for “complete victory” is not only highly attritional and suggestive of yet another endless war, but it is also reckless; its very success could trigger a nuclear holocaust.
Moscow has already paid a high price for its transgressions in Ukraine. To prolong the war at this point in an ideological quest for total victory is both strategically and morally questionable. For many liberal internationalists in the West, the clamour for a “just peace” that is sufficiently punishing to Russia suggests little more than a thinly-veiled desire to impose a Carthaginian peace on Moscow. The West has indeed wounded Russia; now it must decide if it wants to let this wound fester and conflagrate the entire world. For unless Moscow is provided with a reasonable off-ramp that recognises Russia’s status as a regional power with its own existential imperatives of strategic and ontological security, that is the precipice towards which we are heading.
Arta Moeini (@ArtaMoeini) is the Research Director for the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy.