Thinking Beyond The Narrative In The Russia Ukraine Conflict

This is not coming from a Russia/Ukraine expert, nor a Russian apologist…just from someone who has questions. What is victory in Ukraine supposed to look like? Did America and the West really expect to militarily defeat Russia who had their mind set on annexing the areas of Ukraine they did, and that has strong ethnic and historical ties with Russia? 

With NATO moving closer and closer to the borders of Russia, making it possible for Ukraine to be a potential staging ground from where missiles can be launched into Russia, were Russia’s concerns not legitimate?

With the breakup of the Soviet Union and Russia not being the same threat that they once were to the United States, a case can be made that the continued eastward expansion of NATO into former Russian states were an unnecessary provocation of Russia. Again, to be clear; this is not coming from a Russian expert, but these are questions that we cannot simply discard.  

As NATO wooed Ukraine and made moves to draw in the country as part of the military organization, it is likely that the Russians had a legitimate case that this was a step too far. They may have felt they had to respond, to drive a message home to the West that Russia will no longer stand by as NATO expansion comes closer and to their doorsteps. For years Putin has sought to voice Russia’s concerns to NATO, but was continually ignored. 

When it was clear that Russia was about to move into Ukraine, the United States missed an opportunity to launch a high pressure diplomatic campaign aimed at addressing the concerns of Russia. Instead, the United States took an increasingly aggressive tone toward Russia and adopted an even more hostile posture, and chose to instead fight a proxy war with the Russians via Ukraine.

A while back Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. said “We’re not just at war to support the Ukrainians. We’re fundamentally at war, although somewhat through a proxy, with Russia, and it’s important that we win.”  So once more, what exactly does victory in this war against Russia look like? 

So far the United States has sent $56 billion dollars to Ukraine in their war effort, but the situation has nevertheless continued to deteriorate. How much more are we willing to spend?

After Russia recognized the Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Lunansk as independent States, it was clear that Russia was not going to back down in their demand that Ukraine not be a staging ground for NATO. Of course they had a bunch of excuses to use for their incursion, but that was always something they had raised concerns about to NATO and the United States in particular.

The west had already abandoned their agreement to protect Ukraine after they convinced that country to give up its Nuclear weapons back in the 1990s. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, America and the other signatories of the agreement to stand with Ukraine and ensure that Russia respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, stood by and did nothing. 

Obviously an all out conflict with Russia is nothing to take lightly, but the agreement did more or less say that the United States will not allow Russia to bully the former Soviet Republic. The least the United States could have done was engage with Russia, treat them as an  equal, to try and assuage their concerns, deescalate tensions and try to convince them that it is in  Russia’s best interest to honor their part of the agreement, that said Russia will respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Perhaps that was the point when the idea of Ukraine becoming a truly neutral country should have been considered, and negotiated with the Russians. Various sweeteners for all of the parties involved could have been included in any such agreement.  Maybe the regions of Ukraine with ethnic ties and a strong affinity to Russia could have been given the opportunity to decide for themselves if they wanted to break away from Ukraine and become independent States. This may sound far fetched, but as it stands; these regions now are no longer a part of Ukraine as it is. They have been recognized as independent states  by Russia.  Russia is willing to lend their might to help protect those states new found sovereignty.

The bottom line in all of this is that nations will always act in their own self interest (for the most part), and it appears that Russia has chosen to do what they have determined is in their best interest.

By any measure, their invasion of Ukraine is wrong. The destruction they have wrought on that nation since the war began is devastatingly heart wrenching, and has triggered a humanitarian crisis that seemingly could have been avoided if all parities had calmed down and taken a dispassionate, more measured, diplomatic approach to resolving the issue.

Throughout the whole process all we’ve gotten was saber rattling, threats, posturing and an apparent complete lack of leadership from the United States. Even now with Russia having the obvious upper hand in the war against Ukraine, and Ukraine continuing to suffer more devastation, no one is attempting to deescalate the situation and bring this senseless war to an end. 

How much longer are we willing to prolong the war in the effort to avoid the inevitable? All indicators seem to suggest that Russia will come out on top.  How much more territory is Russia going to take control of before people even consider that continuing this war will be to the detriment of Ukraine, and to the benefit of Russia. This is not going to be another Afghanistan for Russia. They have the support of the people in many regions they have seized, so there’s that.  

There are many other considerations to keep in mind as this war prolongs, mainly the longer it does; the more there is the possibility of other nations getting involved on either side increases. Cooler heads need to prevail. The people in charge, continuing to pushing this war need to consider the full economic ramifications, the effect of the geo political shifts, and realignments that are a likely consequence of this war. In addition, the humanitarian crisis, the possibility of more escalation, and the ever present threat of nuclear war need to always be on the minds of the power brokers in the midst of  what seems at least, like a partially self made crisis. 

According to the Washington Free Beacon, today, there are reports of Russia, China, and Iran holding Joint Military exercises in Latin America “in a show of force meant to signal how these militaries can reach the United States.” It makes one wonder how our mishandling of the Ukraine/Russia crisis, and other issues, has served to embolden these nations into coming in our own back yard to engaged in military exercises, in what was once an unlikely scenario?  

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