“It will be over when it finish.”
Neil Mach


“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

James Mattis


I was on a zoom call with six other people discussing world issues when one of the people stated, unequivocally, the war is over. He was referring to the war between Ukraine and Russia. He is right. For all intents and purposes, the war is over, stuck in a stalemate within which neither country will be able to attend 100% of what it desires.

Ukraine will continue to receive significant amounts of armaments with which to either go on the offensive or use on the defensive. That support will increasingly come from Europe and the EU rather than the United States (as it should). Russia will seek to only utilize as much energy and resources and money as needed to keep Ukraine from having a dominant offensive effort and to maintain a defensive posture. It’s a stalemate within which from this point on the losers are the people, economies, and peace. You can debate this position or not, but from here on in this piece I offer an agreement solution. As a preface to that solution, I will say no one will get exactly what they want. Ukraine certainly deserves to be an autonomous country maintaining its natural geography including Crimea and the eastern provinces which Russia claims as its own. Russia deserves nothing. They don’t deserve one inch of Ukrainian soil. That said. Any solution at this point needs to take into consideration the reality of the existing situation

Which leads me to a possible agreement.

First, as a baseline to all the other things that I will suggest as part of the agreement, Ukraine immediately becomes a member in NATO and the EU. Without that the remainder of my suggestions almost become moot. I insure he integrity of Ukrainian geography and interests from his point forward. Included in what would be considered Ukraine in that agreement is Crimea. I will come back to Crimea after I complete the other thoughts. This establishes the integrity of Ukraine geography completely supported by NATO and EU.

Second, what does not get included into what would be considered NATO/EU Ukraine geography would be the western provinces which include parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as temporarily occupied and uncontrolled territories. This geography currently has Russia de facto governance as occupiers since 2014. For that geography I suggest it resides neither in Ukraine nor in Russia, offering Russia a buffer zone by making them an autonomous state. It has its own governance, own economy, and own relationships with other countries. I would suggest some fashion of stewardship to ensure all parties involved permit this region to establish its own autonomous government. That oversight could be a combination of some EU states, possibly China, and some other nonaffiliated country.

Third, in all other pieces of geography where Russia soldiers currently are in place, they are removed back to Russia and that geography is reinstated as part of Ukraine sovereignty. And yes, this includes Crimea.

Fourth, as part of the compromise, because Russia is exiting Crimea, I suggest Russia be permitted to establish a version of Kaliningrad along the Black Sea coast. As this is just a concept, I hesitate to offer specific location. I could see one of two options. First is an isolated port in Crimea within which Russia could have a Black Sea port. Alternatively, possibly along the coast within which Russia is currently occupying there could be an underdeveloped port that could be completely built to establish the resources to support Russia shipping & naval desires in the Black Sea. The latter idea is similar to what China is doing in Cambodia in terms of building a complete harbor port for commerce and military purposes.

None of this is easy. All of this feels a little like flippantly playing checkers with people’s lives, countries geography, and a number of issues which feel ethically dubious. However, if peace is desired none of the solutions are going to be easy. And. I can guarantee, 100%, is maintaining the war status quo will be hard for the people for the economy and for the country.

Which leads me to things that further influence this agreement.

Circling back, remember I mentioned that the United States would be providing less and less support for Ukraine as Europe increased its support. And while that may be true from a military and monetary standpoint, it is not true from a diplomatic standpoint. What I mean by that is that the Ukraine-Russia war can be impacted in a variety of ways. The most critical is Russia’s attention in global interests. While the United States has certainly brought to bear financial weapons against Russia’s economy they were also maneuvering diplomatically – in particular in the Caucuses. It seems as though the United States noticed Russia’s shift from Armenia to Azerbaijan and has tried to take advantage suggesting it would support Armenia militarily which establishes the US as a presence in a region traditionally Russia’s sphere of influence. This becomes an additional source of more vulnerability to Russia. Since the Caucasus matters more to Russia than it does to the U.S., pledging military aid to Armenia creates the remote possibility of American action. American involvement in Armenia can be seen as an effort to enhance their position for future Ukraine talks and will certainly be part of any peace negotiations.

Beyond the Caucasus I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the recent China, US, Trans Pacific discussions. China and US will always be global competitors on a variety of dimensions. But. The current reality is that China’s economy needs the US more than the US needs China’s economy. That’s a specific lever which US is currently tweaking and you can feel some of the impact of that tweaking with how China is shifting its stance towards Russia as well as the United States.

As a reminder much of diplomacy is found within the nuance, not in black and white statements, not in binaries, not in 100% winners or losers. Diplomacy is more often like a slight shift in someone’s stance to make them a little bit more comfortable.

In the end.

I am pro-Ukraine (having visited at least 10 times and have friends there), but peace should be the ultimate objective if we truly believe a stalemate is the most probable conclusion if the war continued. Ponder.

Written by Bruce