Will Ukraine make territorial concessions to Russia to end the war?

Almost a year after the start of the war in Ukraine, the end of the conflict is in sight. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has managed to occupy a large part of the country, even going so far as to formally annex four provinces, but Kyiv manages to retake some of the territories with an effective counterattack. The question everyone keeps asking is: How will the conflict end? A central point is whether Kiev will be willing to give up at least some of the territory taken from its control in a possible peace settlement. Analysts are divided on this point, but what seems clear to all is that Kiev has managed to reclaim all of its territory lost in the conflict, not only officially annexed Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk, but also occupied Crimea. As early as 2014, it’s highly unlikely.

Foreign Policy magazine brought together the views of several experts to try to paint a somewhat clearer picture. “The war isn’t going to end anytime soon. When it’s over, it will likely end with a ceasefire agreement that will leave key issues unaddressed,” said Dan Altman, professor of political science at Georgia State University. According to him, “Ukraine is unlikely to formally acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over any territory and Russia is unlikely to renounce the territory still held by its forces”, and in this sense “it is essential that it does not require a permanent territorial condition for peace.” solution”.. The professor gave some examples. “India and Pakistan started and ended several wars over Kashmir without solving the problem – they even established a ceasefire line as a de facto border” and similarly “Russia and Japan even fought World War II. “.

In short, a dispute over a territory can turn into a permanent problem that does not reach a definitive solution, although it may put an end to armed conflicts. Such a situation exists, for example, in Cyprus, where Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the north of the island resulted in a ceasefire, but Nicosia never recognized the new self-proclaimed state, although the armed conflict has since ended. Similarly, for Altman, “a limited ceasefire agreement in Ukraine is more likely than a full regional solution”, and this “may gradually become the basis for a more lasting peace, albeit tense. Or it could be a pause before the next war.”

According to the scientist, “the terms of a future ceasefire will depend on future wars. To re-conquer the occupied territories, Ukraine will probably have to conquer them on the ground”, and if Kyiv “does not remove Russia from its territory and eventually ceases hostilities, the emerging policy will be 2014” “It may be similar to the approach followed in the Crimea and Donbass after . This would involve an implied tolerance for Russia’s temporary control over the occupied territories, but this does not constitute an official relinquishment of the territories.”

According to Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Putin “prevented the possibility of peace talks by annexing parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson region. And since he did this deliberately, it means he did not want negotiations”. In his view, this would have made the position of Volodymyr Zelensky even more irreconcilable, “who wanted clear defeat for Putin, not temporary solutions or a fragile truce.” “I don’t think Ukraine will be able to regain all the territory it lost in 2022, but I think it will not accept this loss in a deal” and in that sense “there is a no-deal possibility,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at the Center for Marine Analysis, “like in Korea a ceasefire. , but it will take several years for that to happen,” he says.

“While it seems politically unlikely that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will agree to make immediate and permanent territorial concessions to Russia (especially as the Ukrainian military continues to gain ground), Ukrainian negotiators may consider initiating an international agreement as part of a comprehensive deal. Alexander Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Columbia University’s Barnard College, said: “An assisted process that could eventually consolidate or transfer sovereignty in parts of the pre-2022 regions, namely Donetsk and Luhansk and parts of Crimea, which have been occupied by Russia since 2014.” The professor said he still believes that “in the medium term, both Kyiv and Moscow are more likely to prefer a military stalemate than to enter such a process.”

Source: Today IT