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Nato official: Ukraine could cede territory to join alliance

Stian Jenssen argued that it was important to discuss Ukraine’s security arrangements after the war ended

August 15, 2023 - 6:00pm

Ceding territory to Russia in exchange for Nato membership could be a solution to ending the war, the chief of staff for Nato’s Secretary-General has said.

At a panel debate in Arendal, Norway on Tuesday Stian Jenssen argued that it was important to discuss Ukraine’s security arrangements after the war ended. In comments reported by Norway’s most read newspaper, VG, Jenssen reiterated the official Nato line that it ultimately lay with Ukraine to decide when and how it would negotiate. But his proposal for territorial secession is beyond anything that his boss, Jens Stoltenberg, has discussed publicly.

Jensen insisted that his proposal was not final, but that it could be a “possible solution”. The Nato chief of staff stressed that Russia was “struggling enormously militarily” and that it seemed “unrealistic that [it] can take new territories”. The challenge, he noted, was how much territory Ukraine “manages to take back”.

So far, Ukraine has made limited territorial gains as part of its long-awaited counteroffensive. Progress has been hampered by widespread Russian-laid minefields and strong fortifications, with major fighting along its entire front line. In a statement on Monday Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar claimed that the Ukrainian military managed to recapture almost two square miles during the past week around the battered city of Bakhmut, but Russian troops were continuing their assault around the eastern towns of Kupyansk and Lyman.

Nato membership remains a thorny — and highly divisive — question for Western allies. While some countries, such as the Baltic states and the UK, are more bullish about Ukrainian membership, others — namely France, Germany and the US — are more concerned about escalation risks. 

Last month, leaders from Nato countries gathered in Vilnius to discuss whether an agreement could be reached. Allies made some progress by creating a new Nato-Ukraine council and a multi-year programme to “help transition” Ukraine to Nato equipment and standards. In addition, the group published a communiqué that stated: “We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met.” 

Ukraine’s President Volodoymyr Zelenskyy criticised the summit as “absurd” for failing to offer a timetable for his country’s membership. But Jensen’s comments in Norway this week indicate a possible willingness to move forward with membership — though at the cost of territorial concessions.

At the end of March last year, the Ukrainian President suggested that he would be willing to accept Russian control over Ukraine’s eastern regions, but his position has hardened over the last year and a half. As part of a Chinese peace mission to Ukraine earlier this year, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that peace depended on “respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. He added that “Ukraine does not accept any proposals that would involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict”.


is UnHerd’s Newsroom editor.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
9 months ago

Hard to know if this is one official speaking out of turn, or whether we’re seeing the early stages of a peace negotiation and preparing public opinion for an eventual settlement.

James S.
James S.
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Trial balloon?

James S.
James S.
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Trial balloon?

J Bryant
J Bryant
9 months ago

Hard to know if this is one official speaking out of turn, or whether we’re seeing the early stages of a peace negotiation and preparing public opinion for an eventual settlement.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago

Jenssen is somewhat of a lone voice on this at the moment. Perhaps more telling is what is not being talked about. After a Winter of media saturation and political tub thumping for the 2023 counteroffensive, there’s rather less said about Ukraine at all today despite the billions of dollars being spent every month.

The 2023 Spring, then Summer, soon to be Autumn, counteroffensive has encountered heavily fortified positions. Little progress has been made despite nearly emptying the West’s conventional arsenal. In this war, at least for now, the advantage has swung back to the defender.

With both sides drained of men and materiel, we’re left watching a war of attrition and supply chains. The West won’t commit any men, and can’t send much more ordnance. Short of a black swan event in Russia, the odds for Russia keeping its gains this Winter look high. There’s not much Ukraine and the West could do differently in 2024 to overcome the 2023 stalemate.

If this assessment is shared by Western leaders who want to avoid being connected with failure at all costs, then they’ll be looking to cut their ties with the war and wind down funding. Unpopular as the war in Afghanistan became, cutting and running was still very unpopular. If victory isn’t possible in Ukraine, a successful exit strategy will need to claim the achievement some other bigger goal. Ideally, the exit strategy will put all the questions in a can that can be kicked down the road.

Nevermind that Russia could barely mount a “limited special operation”, that a full invasion was clearly beyond Russian capability, after months of little Ukraine coverage we may start reading more stories of how:
– Total defeat was a close run thing.
– NATO’s Eastern European flank was threatened.
– Ukraine’s fighting saved *us*.
– The West’s support helped Ukraine save Eastern Europe
– A special type of NATO membership (not the real thing, of course) is a deserved reward for Ukraine’s heroic defence of Europe.

A Hollywood ending. And for once I’m sure the Russian trolls won’t object to these stories. Of course, it doesn’t matter if any of the above is true or not, it is simply how shifts in Western leaders’ positions can be presented (spun) if need be, and how public opinion can be shifted from supporting the war to supporting the peace even when the peace looks a lot like what we were originally fighting against.

As for Ukraine, it won’t have a say in any of this. No doubt that will seed new problems for the future. Maybe these problems can be added to that can being prepared for kicking down the road.

Last edited 9 months ago by Nell Clover
martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“Cede”
You ignore the constraints that Putin is laboring under.
Ukraine has been at full mobilization since 14 Feb 2022, while Putin has still not fully mobilized, or even rebuilt and retrained new, more effective units, as Ukraine has been doing for months.
He’s very unsure what the popular reaction would be, especially with an election next year. Indeed, much of his manpower and heavy weaponry is given to the Rosgvardia, to insure no popular unrest gets out of hand.
Russians are almost as great a threat to the regime as Ukrainains.
So Putin has instead, relied on mines, and “meat assaults” to somehow draw Ukraine away from its main efforts.
That actually speaks to the WW2 mythology that every Russian has been inculcated with, especially over the last 20 years. People like Medinsky churn out ridiculous “Boeviks” (that nobody watches) almost every month.
This is real war, however, and not a studio set. It may take more time, but soon all of Russia’s fairy tales look liable to turn out to be..
Just fairy tales.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

No, definitely “seed” as in plant new problems now that will sprout later.

Whatever constraints Putin faces don’t (and whether it is mines or meat assaults holding back Ukrainian forces doesn’t) change the progress of the “real war”: the West’s huge financial and materiel investment in the 2023 counteroffensive has not paid any dividend. The stalemate has not been overcome as was expected.

If the stalemate is not overcome in the next 12 weeks (and there are few signs that will happen), then there will have been no decisive shift in the war for more than a year and there won’t be for at least another 9 months.

Putin might be directing an unpopular war, but he’s not far off being a Tsarist dictator. What the proles think won’t affect his final vote count. Whereas Biden is facing real popular hostility to the war. His Ukraine policy will be tested in real elections.

I don’t disagree that Russia is often delusional when it comes to knowing its real power. Russia really did bite off more than it could chew when it invaded Ukraine. But it has not been a secret in Russia for more than a year that the fairy tale of the special operation is over, and something much grimmer is the reality. Despite this, Putin has held on, and Russia has impressively stabilised its front line in the face of a well funded and well trained Ukrainian army getting intelligence and strategic leadership from NATO.

Starting with Korea, the West has only engaged in direct and proxy wars where either it has had supremecy of arms or a short hot war whether won or lost has had its own strategic merit. In Ukraine we are well short of supremecy of arms and it will soon be 2 long years of stalemate. The cold hard military assessment will be this needs a political solution because there isn’t a battlefield solution. The idea we are in a duel to the death for Ukraine’s territorial integrity is a fairy tale too, but unlike most Russians, many in the West still seem to believe in fairy tales.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Negotiations only bring a temporary halt, not a solution, as you well know.
Putin cannot afford to end this with a permanent agreement, any more than he could after 2014. That’s why he invaded Syria, to keep the game going until he could invade again.
If this is resolved, Putin knows he will fall from power. No leader can survive a debacle that destroys most of his army–in exchange for some coal deposits in eastern Ukraine. He will at best call a truce–but not peace.
So, a battlefield victory for Ukraine isn’t really the main point.
The main objective for both Ukraine and NATO/EU is that Russia never recovers from this.
Putin’s economy is now totally dependent on oil and gas–commodities increasingly out of favour by nations like China. His gambit to raise the price of wheat hasn’t paid off. HIs other little money spinner, arms, is now totally focused on Russia’s army, not getting revenue from overseas buyers. Every oligarch is in a panic, knowing Russia’s economy is tanking.
Even six months ago, ending the war might have saved Russia. But not now.
Oh, by the way, Russia’s forest fires now make it a dangerous source of green house gases.
After two years of war Putin’s regime will inevitably turn into “Northwest Korea,” a Stalinist system that is hostile to all forms of innovation, and that exploits its (very poor) people beyond the limit. A mild form of this brought about the fall of the Soviet Union.
It thus isn’t Putin that is the objective. It’s Russia itself.
And Putin’s self-destructive policies will bring about a third Russian collapse (in a century) that much sooner.

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Negotiations only bring a temporary halt, not a solution, as you well know.
Putin cannot afford to end this with a permanent agreement, any more than he could after 2014. That’s why he invaded Syria, to keep the game going until he could invade again.
If this is resolved, Putin knows he will fall from power. No leader can survive a debacle that destroys most of his army–in exchange for some coal deposits in eastern Ukraine. He will at best call a truce–but not peace.
So, a battlefield victory for Ukraine isn’t really the main point.
The main objective for both Ukraine and NATO/EU is that Russia never recovers from this.
Putin’s economy is now totally dependent on oil and gas–commodities increasingly out of favour by nations like China. His gambit to raise the price of wheat hasn’t paid off. HIs other little money spinner, arms, is now totally focused on Russia’s army, not getting revenue from overseas buyers. Every oligarch is in a panic, knowing Russia’s economy is tanking.
Even six months ago, ending the war might have saved Russia. But not now.
Oh, by the way, Russia’s forest fires now make it a dangerous source of green house gases.
After two years of war Putin’s regime will inevitably turn into “Northwest Korea,” a Stalinist system that is hostile to all forms of innovation, and that exploits its (very poor) people beyond the limit. A mild form of this brought about the fall of the Soviet Union.
It thus isn’t Putin that is the objective. It’s Russia itself.
And Putin’s self-destructive policies will bring about a third Russian collapse (in a century) that much sooner.

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

No, definitely “seed” as in plant new problems now that will sprout later.

Whatever constraints Putin faces don’t (and whether it is mines or meat assaults holding back Ukrainian forces doesn’t) change the progress of the “real war”: the West’s huge financial and materiel investment in the 2023 counteroffensive has not paid any dividend. The stalemate has not been overcome as was expected.

If the stalemate is not overcome in the next 12 weeks (and there are few signs that will happen), then there will have been no decisive shift in the war for more than a year and there won’t be for at least another 9 months.

Putin might be directing an unpopular war, but he’s not far off being a Tsarist dictator. What the proles think won’t affect his final vote count. Whereas Biden is facing real popular hostility to the war. His Ukraine policy will be tested in real elections.

I don’t disagree that Russia is often delusional when it comes to knowing its real power. Russia really did bite off more than it could chew when it invaded Ukraine. But it has not been a secret in Russia for more than a year that the fairy tale of the special operation is over, and something much grimmer is the reality. Despite this, Putin has held on, and Russia has impressively stabilised its front line in the face of a well funded and well trained Ukrainian army getting intelligence and strategic leadership from NATO.

Starting with Korea, the West has only engaged in direct and proxy wars where either it has had supremecy of arms or a short hot war whether won or lost has had its own strategic merit. In Ukraine we are well short of supremecy of arms and it will soon be 2 long years of stalemate. The cold hard military assessment will be this needs a political solution because there isn’t a battlefield solution. The idea we are in a duel to the death for Ukraine’s territorial integrity is a fairy tale too, but unlike most Russians, many in the West still seem to believe in fairy tales.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“Cede”
You ignore the constraints that Putin is laboring under.
Ukraine has been at full mobilization since 14 Feb 2022, while Putin has still not fully mobilized, or even rebuilt and retrained new, more effective units, as Ukraine has been doing for months.
He’s very unsure what the popular reaction would be, especially with an election next year. Indeed, much of his manpower and heavy weaponry is given to the Rosgvardia, to insure no popular unrest gets out of hand.
Russians are almost as great a threat to the regime as Ukrainains.
So Putin has instead, relied on mines, and “meat assaults” to somehow draw Ukraine away from its main efforts.
That actually speaks to the WW2 mythology that every Russian has been inculcated with, especially over the last 20 years. People like Medinsky churn out ridiculous “Boeviks” (that nobody watches) almost every month.
This is real war, however, and not a studio set. It may take more time, but soon all of Russia’s fairy tales look liable to turn out to be..
Just fairy tales.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
9 months ago

Jenssen is somewhat of a lone voice on this at the moment. Perhaps more telling is what is not being talked about. After a Winter of media saturation and political tub thumping for the 2023 counteroffensive, there’s rather less said about Ukraine at all today despite the billions of dollars being spent every month.

The 2023 Spring, then Summer, soon to be Autumn, counteroffensive has encountered heavily fortified positions. Little progress has been made despite nearly emptying the West’s conventional arsenal. In this war, at least for now, the advantage has swung back to the defender.

With both sides drained of men and materiel, we’re left watching a war of attrition and supply chains. The West won’t commit any men, and can’t send much more ordnance. Short of a black swan event in Russia, the odds for Russia keeping its gains this Winter look high. There’s not much Ukraine and the West could do differently in 2024 to overcome the 2023 stalemate.

If this assessment is shared by Western leaders who want to avoid being connected with failure at all costs, then they’ll be looking to cut their ties with the war and wind down funding. Unpopular as the war in Afghanistan became, cutting and running was still very unpopular. If victory isn’t possible in Ukraine, a successful exit strategy will need to claim the achievement some other bigger goal. Ideally, the exit strategy will put all the questions in a can that can be kicked down the road.

Nevermind that Russia could barely mount a “limited special operation”, that a full invasion was clearly beyond Russian capability, after months of little Ukraine coverage we may start reading more stories of how:
– Total defeat was a close run thing.
– NATO’s Eastern European flank was threatened.
– Ukraine’s fighting saved *us*.
– The West’s support helped Ukraine save Eastern Europe
– A special type of NATO membership (not the real thing, of course) is a deserved reward for Ukraine’s heroic defence of Europe.

A Hollywood ending. And for once I’m sure the Russian trolls won’t object to these stories. Of course, it doesn’t matter if any of the above is true or not, it is simply how shifts in Western leaders’ positions can be presented (spun) if need be, and how public opinion can be shifted from supporting the war to supporting the peace even when the peace looks a lot like what we were originally fighting against.

As for Ukraine, it won’t have a say in any of this. No doubt that will seed new problems for the future. Maybe these problems can be added to that can being prepared for kicking down the road.

Last edited 9 months ago by Nell Clover
martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

War has been Putin’s only salvation since 2014.
This is the problem with with “Realists” who demand “negotiations.” They don’t realize that Putin can never agree to a final peace short of total victory.
After the stalemate in Donbas in 2014, hIs interventions in Syria and Libya were supposed to show how strong Russian was, with the capture of Ukraine being the final frosting on the cake.
So, unless he conquers most of Ukraine, everything he has done after 2014 will always seem a failure, particularly with the destruction of the regular Russian army and most of the Russian air force. He’s already squandered most of the national wealth, and now has a choice between buying rubles or buying weapons.
A final peace deal would seem a massive defeat to every Russian–and a disastrous loss of THEIR wealth. Then his most ardent supporters would start coming after him…
Barring Russia’s economic or military collapse, no peace this year, and probably not the next.
Putin’s high-wire can never stop–or he falls into the abyss…

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

War has been Putin’s only salvation since 2014.
This is the problem with with “Realists” who demand “negotiations.” They don’t realize that Putin can never agree to a final peace short of total victory.
After the stalemate in Donbas in 2014, hIs interventions in Syria and Libya were supposed to show how strong Russian was, with the capture of Ukraine being the final frosting on the cake.
So, unless he conquers most of Ukraine, everything he has done after 2014 will always seem a failure, particularly with the destruction of the regular Russian army and most of the Russian air force. He’s already squandered most of the national wealth, and now has a choice between buying rubles or buying weapons.
A final peace deal would seem a massive defeat to every Russian–and a disastrous loss of THEIR wealth. Then his most ardent supporters would start coming after him…
Barring Russia’s economic or military collapse, no peace this year, and probably not the next.
Putin’s high-wire can never stop–or he falls into the abyss…

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
0 0
0 0
9 months ago

Its possible that ,no one mention the reason of this war started,(Putin mafia do not want ,NATO, at the front doors, added that Ukrania for them is not a country ,only a extension of mother Russia )
If Russia wil not be dawn to the bottom at eny cost will be back ,its matter of time.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

This ‘kite’ will not have been flown without some agreement in the background as to it’s flight. V good to sense NATO prepared here to be the guarantor. One should also not read too much into the immediate public responses to it.
One doesn’t need to be an expert in History to appreciate that v often a confidential negotiation is underway below the public utterances and we’ll just get the odd glimmer of what may be happening..
Zelensky has to watch his rear as he knows there will be Ukrainians who’d portray any ceding of territory as ‘sell-out’. He knows Putin would look to stoke any disunity too. At same time he’s shown he knows how to lead and when time and circumstances right one suspects he’s prepared for a compromise and has the credibility and track record to carry his people with him.
But maybe not just yet whilst the chance to regain further territory remains this summer/autumn..

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Agreed.
Events on the western part of the front indicate Ukraine may soon get beyond the minefields.
Something to watch also is the Dnipro. Ukrainians already have a permanent presence there, and Russia has taken away all it could to reinforce other parts of the front.
The kicker is that the mines that might have stopped Ukraine–the same way it was farther east–were washed away when the idiots blew the Nova Kakhovka dam.
Hoisted on their own petard, as it were.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Yes the ‘fog of war’ makes assessing the current momentum v difficult but some positive signs seem to be growing. If pushed back into a battle of mobility the Russians will be slaughtered and morale probably collapse as their soldiers don’t want to be there. But they have dug in and Ukraine lack the air power to pulverise lines of trenches quickly. Nonetheless their new cluster bombs probably now beginning to make a difference. If they cut off Crimea Putin has to negotiate

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Yes the ‘fog of war’ makes assessing the current momentum v difficult but some positive signs seem to be growing. If pushed back into a battle of mobility the Russians will be slaughtered and morale probably collapse as their soldiers don’t want to be there. But they have dug in and Ukraine lack the air power to pulverise lines of trenches quickly. Nonetheless their new cluster bombs probably now beginning to make a difference. If they cut off Crimea Putin has to negotiate

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Agreed.
Events on the western part of the front indicate Ukraine may soon get beyond the minefields.
Something to watch also is the Dnipro. Ukrainians already have a permanent presence there, and Russia has taken away all it could to reinforce other parts of the front.
The kicker is that the mines that might have stopped Ukraine–the same way it was farther east–were washed away when the idiots blew the Nova Kakhovka dam.
Hoisted on their own petard, as it were.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago

This ‘kite’ will not have been flown without some agreement in the background as to it’s flight. V good to sense NATO prepared here to be the guarantor. One should also not read too much into the immediate public responses to it.
One doesn’t need to be an expert in History to appreciate that v often a confidential negotiation is underway below the public utterances and we’ll just get the odd glimmer of what may be happening..
Zelensky has to watch his rear as he knows there will be Ukrainians who’d portray any ceding of territory as ‘sell-out’. He knows Putin would look to stoke any disunity too. At same time he’s shown he knows how to lead and when time and circumstances right one suspects he’s prepared for a compromise and has the credibility and track record to carry his people with him.
But maybe not just yet whilst the chance to regain further territory remains this summer/autumn..

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

Wont be any peace this year.
Neither side wants it, and nobody in the West wants to have Russians who tortured and killed in Ukraine right next door to the EU. Ditto for Vagner and FSB assassins.
Most important, Russia still needs to feel the full effect of its economic downturn.
Just as in 1991, every Russian has to remember this as the event that destroyed their lives.
Look how well it worked on the Germans…

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

Wont be any peace this year.
Neither side wants it, and nobody in the West wants to have Russians who tortured and killed in Ukraine right next door to the EU. Ditto for Vagner and FSB assassins.
Most important, Russia still needs to feel the full effect of its economic downturn.
Just as in 1991, every Russian has to remember this as the event that destroyed their lives.
Look how well it worked on the Germans…

Last edited 9 months ago by martin logan
Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
9 months ago

It’s barely 6% of Ukraine’s territory.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

Rather irrelevant.
As always in war, negotiations are predicated upon events at the battle field. Ukraine seems to be making progress at several places. That Putin had to authorize a 12% interest rates suggests it may end up like Mukden in 1905: Russia’s dire economic situation mandated an unfavorable peace.
More importantly, Russia has had to withdraw forces, particularly artillery, from the Dnipro river. Given the arrival of quite a few newly-trained Ukrainian marines, that’s the area to keep one’s eye on.
Negotiations won’t begin for several months at least, and probably really only next year.
If there is one thing NATO and Ukraine can agree on, it’s that every Russian must be as badly off as possible when this war ends.
As in 1989, they must be shown that aggressive wars don’t pay.

michael harris
michael harris
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Which aggressive war was it in 1989 that Russia was shown didn’t pay? Or do you mean the move West of 1945 (blocked at the Oder/Neisse line)?

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  michael harris

They withdrew/ran from Afghanistan in 88. Certainly didn’t pay.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Shh, don’t burst his bubble.
Russians themselves consider the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, WW1, Afghanistan and now Ukraine as great victories.
The television tells them that Russia never loses.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Shh, don’t burst his bubble.
Russians themselves consider the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, WW1, Afghanistan and now Ukraine as great victories.
The television tells them that Russia never loses.

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  michael harris

They withdrew/ran from Afghanistan in 88. Certainly didn’t pay.

michael harris
michael harris
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Which aggressive war was it in 1989 that Russia was shown didn’t pay? Or do you mean the move West of 1945 (blocked at the Oder/Neisse line)?

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

Rather irrelevant.
As always in war, negotiations are predicated upon events at the battle field. Ukraine seems to be making progress at several places. That Putin had to authorize a 12% interest rates suggests it may end up like Mukden in 1905: Russia’s dire economic situation mandated an unfavorable peace.
More importantly, Russia has had to withdraw forces, particularly artillery, from the Dnipro river. Given the arrival of quite a few newly-trained Ukrainian marines, that’s the area to keep one’s eye on.
Negotiations won’t begin for several months at least, and probably really only next year.
If there is one thing NATO and Ukraine can agree on, it’s that every Russian must be as badly off as possible when this war ends.
As in 1989, they must be shown that aggressive wars don’t pay.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

This points up the real tragedy of this war.
Putin could have held an election in Donbas anytime in the last 8 years. Ukraine would have complained, but nearly all parties would have accepted a fait accompli.
But Putin chose to embark on this hopeless invasion. Now that the main effort–overthrowing the “regime” in Kyiv–has failed, he’s hoping to hang on to the few incinerated crumbs he still has in the south.
A smart leader would give most of it back. Ukraine will have its hands full rebuilding for decades.
But very sadly, Putin is a Real Russian, and so lacks the basic intelligence that is need to pursue rational diplomacy.
So he and the clueless Z-Patriots he has spawned will continue to try and achieve his fantasy goals.
Donbas has almost no young men not in the army. It’s an economic basket case. Soon this will also be the case with Russia itself.
So the tragedy of this war isn’t that Russia annexed Donbas.
The real tragedy is that Donbas annexed Russia.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Putin could have held an election in Donbas anytime in the last 8 years.

What are you talking about? Russia’s position from 2014 onwards was that Donbass was Ukrainian, in accordance with the Minsk Accords – which, as it turns out, Russia were the only ones to respect.
Instead of agreeing limited cultural autonomy within Ukraine, Ukraine deprived its population in the Donbass of pension payments etc., and started a civil war against its own citizens.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Er, the “civil war” was started by someone called “Girkin.”
And it brought about 12000 deaths on both sides when Putin decided–too late–to back him up. Since then it ahs been a few dozen deaths on both sides of the line.
Russia’s position on Minsk was to basically take away Ukraine’s sovereignty by giving Donbas a veto over everything. Even the peace candidate Zelensky wouldn’t accept it.
Far worse, Russia’s disastrous invasion has only brought 100-150,000 deaths of its own people.
Even Russia’s only real national hero, Stalin, might think that a bit…sub-optimal.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

Er, the “civil war” was started by someone called “Girkin.”
And it brought about 12000 deaths on both sides when Putin decided–too late–to back him up. Since then it ahs been a few dozen deaths on both sides of the line.
Russia’s position on Minsk was to basically take away Ukraine’s sovereignty by giving Donbas a veto over everything. Even the peace candidate Zelensky wouldn’t accept it.
Far worse, Russia’s disastrous invasion has only brought 100-150,000 deaths of its own people.
Even Russia’s only real national hero, Stalin, might think that a bit…sub-optimal.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
9 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Putin could have held an election in Donbas anytime in the last 8 years.

What are you talking about? Russia’s position from 2014 onwards was that Donbass was Ukrainian, in accordance with the Minsk Accords – which, as it turns out, Russia were the only ones to respect.
Instead of agreeing limited cultural autonomy within Ukraine, Ukraine deprived its population in the Donbass of pension payments etc., and started a civil war against its own citizens.

martin logan
martin logan
9 months ago

This points up the real tragedy of this war.
Putin could have held an election in Donbas anytime in the last 8 years. Ukraine would have complained, but nearly all parties would have accepted a fait accompli.
But Putin chose to embark on this hopeless invasion. Now that the main effort–overthrowing the “regime” in Kyiv–has failed, he’s hoping to hang on to the few incinerated crumbs he still has in the south.
A smart leader would give most of it back. Ukraine will have its hands full rebuilding for decades.
But very sadly, Putin is a Real Russian, and so lacks the basic intelligence that is need to pursue rational diplomacy.
So he and the clueless Z-Patriots he has spawned will continue to try and achieve his fantasy goals.
Donbas has almost no young men not in the army. It’s an economic basket case. Soon this will also be the case with Russia itself.
So the tragedy of this war isn’t that Russia annexed Donbas.
The real tragedy is that Donbas annexed Russia.