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Prediction for peace in Ukraine

I started writing this on New Year's Eve 2023/24. The war in Ukraine has been grinding on for nearly two years. In the past couple of days, Russia has increased its intensity of rocket attacks across the whole of Ukraine. Many of those missiles are being intercepted and as far as I can tell, not much is being damaged. Russia's hope is presumably that these attacks will sap the morale of the state as well as absorb what's left of their US supplied anti-missile resources. At some point, Ukraine's stockpiles of war materials and trained military will be depleted compared to Russia's vastly superior stockpile including more than 2,000 warplanes they have been loathe to use until Ukraine's defences are weaker, and Russia will eventually push west when it controls the skies. We can't allow that to happen for two reasons: Where will they stop, and the further west they advance, the less the citizens in the territories they occupy will be prepared to accept Russian authority, meaning peace will become increasingly hard to imagine long term.

So the biggest danger facing Ukraine today is declining support from her allies. 

There are several reasons why this has been happening. Military stalemate. Distraction by Gaza. Reducing newsworthiness. Declining economies in Europe and the USA needing to watch the pennies. Rising tensions in other global hotspots, especially N Korea, Taiwan, Iran/Yemen/Syria/Lebanon and even Guyana in S. America where the UK is being dragged into beefing up its defence against an aggressive Venezuela. Not to mention chaos everywhere in Africa. 

Simply put, most of the world is still sympathetic to Ukraine, but it's no longer our highest expenditure priority. What support we willingly provided in 2022 as a result of Zelensky's charm offensive and shear revulsion of Russian thuggery, is dwindling. 

The basic reality is that despite throwing our combined kitchen sinks at the Russians, it's made little difference over the past year or so. There are inevitable small movements backwards and forwards, but the overall trend is that both sides have dug themselves in, most of the native population between them have fled, and they've reached military stalemate. But to sustain that stalemate, both sides need to maintain pressure on the other... which costs money, men and munitions - which Russia still has in abundance, and for which Ukraine is totally reliant on ally support - basically a hesitant Europe, and an election focussed USA whose population has grown bored of the conflict which doesn't affect their day to day lives. It's just another slice of world madness in which the US public would rather not remain involved - especially when they are assailed daily by shattered lives in Gaza apparently inflicted by a vengeful state funded by the same taxpayer dollars. Americans (and most Europeans) are constantly being reminded that they are sponsoring the death of both good and bad guys. And it's becoming increasingly personal as they are deluged by the worst of the horrors direct to their phones. Social media is screaming STOP THE KILLING.

So the world wants it all to stop... or they will stop paying for it to continue.

What's needed is a compromise that both sides might accept to end the conflict. But what might it look like?

The borders of Ukraine were somewhat casually defined following the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Back in Soviet history they were drawn for administrative expediencies and private whims of the leadership rather than based on clearly defined cultural or ethnic territories of the wide variety of peoples living in the space we now call Ukraine. The east of the country, broadly defined as the Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk regions, and now largely occupied by Russian troops, is populated by Russian speaking communities who started the punch-up to demand control by Moscow, and not Kyiv. It was the locals who started the whole border dispute, no doubt encouraged by their Russian chums and families. Russia even claims to have held a referendum asking the locals which side they want to be governed by - and then claimed the result was a landslide in support of them 'returning' to mother Russia. Of course any voting managed by Russia must be taken with a large pinch of Black Sea salt considering the democratic 'freedoms' enjoyed by the rest of the Russian population, where you are encouraged to place your cross on a piece of paper provided by thugs with guns. But it's generally accepted that the majority of the population in the disputed regions speak Russian, and might therefore prefer to be Russian rather than Ukrainian.

Russia also feels aggrieved that NATO have pushed east despite verbal promises in 1990 by James Baker, then US Secretary of state, and a few months later by the DG of NATO, that NATO would not advance east past Germany. The USSR subsequently collapsed a year later and the political landscape instantly changed to release Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia to form democracies and thereby conform to NATO entry requirements allowing them to join the pact. Others followed to the north and south, resulting in Ukraine buffering what Russia saw as a creeping peril. 

But NATO is not an offensive alliance. Indeed its charter expressly forbids any member to invade a neighbour. Its members abide by the simple rule of an attack on one is an attack on all. Great idea. Would that every nation in the world could join it.

So here's my prediction for the inevitable compromise between Russia and Ukraine:-

Russia keeps Crimea, Donbas and Luhansk on the basis their populations 'voted for it', and the remainder of Ukraine immediately joins NATO (and then probably the EU).

Nobody likes giving in to a bully, but then it's madness to keep killing large numbers of young men and women on both sides. Much of the world is also punishing Russia by not buying it's oil and gas as well as not selling it their technology and general produce, thereby driving it into dodgy company with the likes of N Korea and Iran. Good luck with that Putin. Many of their wealthier citizens are also being sanctioned around the world, so these days it's not great being Russian even if they will have stolen a bit more land and a few more Russian speaking people. 

Something has to give in the name of Peace. Time heals all wounds and Ukraine does not deserve any more.

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