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Talking Peace in Ukraine

The time has come to negotiate a ceasefire and launch serious peace talks. This includes negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to decide the fate of Russian-occupied territories. Da Project Syndicate.

The Ukraine war is being fought both on the battlefield and in the broader geopolitical context. And Russia seems to have a chance of winning on both fronts.

On the battlefield, Russia’s military machine initially showed itself to be ineffective and antiquated. But that has been par for the course for Russia ever since Napoleon’s invasion in 1812. Through a combination of barbarism and sheer numbers – “Quantity has a quality all its own,” said Stalin – Russia has generally managed to turn the tide. And, indeed, in Ukraine today, what has become a brutal war of attrition is producing slow but consistent Russian advances.

A similar shift in Russia’s favor may well be playing out geopolitically. The West’s resolve to uphold its robust values-based response is waning. Though NATO members projected unity at their recent summit in Madrid, Europe seems to be increasingly divided on Ukraine.Eastern European countries, together with Finland and Sweden, view Russia as an immediate, even existential, threat. But for countries like Italy, Spain, and even France, more immediate security concerns lie in North Africa and the Sahel, as well as in the possibility of a new migrant crisis. And amid skyrocketing inflation and slowing economic growth, the political sustainability of economic sanctions is far from certain.

A political shift is already taking place in Italy. The two largest parties in parliament – the Five Star Movement and the Lega – oppose arms delivery to Ukraine, and have expressed their willingness to sacrifice Ukrainian territory in exchange for normal economic relations with Russia.

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