The war started by Vladimir Putin has no rational or achievable goals. This war is not about trying to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO — this can’t be resolved by warfare. It’s not about ensuring that people can speak Russian in Donbas — they could do it anyway. It’s not about destroying biolaboratories manufacturing infertility viruses targeting Russian women: these labs simply do not exist anywhere in the world.
This war is solely about destroying Ukraine: as a state, as a culture, as a nation. Putin does not like Ukraine: that’s just how it is. He never tried to hide his goals either: Putin has said repeatedly that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation, speaking the same language, and that Ukraine was invented by Lenin. This means that according to him, there should be no Ukraine at all in a “correct” and organised world. This is what this war is about.
We have grounds to believe that destroying Ukraine is just an intermediate goal. It should be followed by another war aiming to subjugate the entire Western (European, Christian) civilisation to Putin. I doubt that he plans to incorporate France or Spain into Russia: I think his plans in the West do not go beyond the borders of the former Warsaw Pact states, or maybe beyond “getting back” Finland. But Europe and the USA should know their place, still.
This is why this war cannot end with the signing of treaties or with reaching a compromise between the warring sides, as most wars in history do.
Ukraine cannot agree with the condition that demands it to cease to exist as a state. Post-Soviet states and former Soviet satellite states will not agree to go back to their colonial status or vassal dependence. Western Europe and the US will never accept Russia’s wish to be in charge of establishing the global order.
This war can only be followed by peace if it ends with complete military and political defeat of Putin’s Russia and the dismantling of the current regime. Putin’s state must cease to exist: not Russia, but the current state, hostile to the entire world and to Russia itself. Any other outcome, no matter how it is presented, will only be a temporary ceasefire: after Vladimir Putin’s regime regains its strength, it will go on another attack.
Even when Ukraine liberates all its territory — and sooner or later, it will happen, as the way this war is going shows that Putin’s Russia cannot win on the battlefield — no agreements or deals signed with Putin as a legitimate leader of the country will deter Russia from another wave of aggression.
In this context, the proposals that we at times hear in the West which say that after Ukraine liberates its territory, fully or even partially, talks with Putin should begin, are frightening in their underestimation of the existential threat that our country poses to the entire world today.
Just like at the end of WWII, talks are necessary and important: but only about capitulation. And just like back then, the man personifying the regime cannot sign it even if he wanted to. He’s got too much blood on his hands, too long of a trail of lies behind him. In 1945, the capitulation was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.
Who can be our Keitel today? Anyone from the leader’s close circle would do, I think. The country does not even need to be under occupation for that: in 1918, Germany signed all the treaties it was told to sign, even though no enemy soldiers even set foot on its territory. Putin’s allies will do it when it becomes absolutely clear that the war has been lost completely, that the frontline will collapse any day now (or it has already collapsed), that they’ve run out of resources, and that economy is in freefall.
They won’t do it to put an end to bloodshed or to save the country from chaos and hunger: they will only do it for themselves. They couldn’t care less about Ukraine, and about Russia either, for that matter. They care about saving themselves, though. Each one of them needs one thing: the forgiveness of the West. They need to make sure that they can once again spend their billions there, in the kingdom of immorality and Russophobia. Otherwise, what is the point of them? What was their entire life even about?
They weren’t too eager to welcome the war, although had Putin won, they would have remained his loyal servants. But they don’t need him if he loses. Of course, there needs to be a certain degree of resolve for that: they need to realise that staying loyal is even more dangerous than turning on Putin.
I hope that the casting call for Keitel’s role is already well underway and that the key figures in Putin’s circle have already received or will receive the corresponding signals from the West.
To make sure that the war is followed by peace, not ceasefire, the final peace treaty should be signed not by just Ukraine and Russia. It should be inked by Russia on one side, and both Ukraine and NATO on the other. Putin keeps saying that Russia is at war with NATO — and it’s one of these rare cases when he speaks the truth.
The treaty should not only establish Ukraine’s territorial integrity and its security guarantees. It should make sure that Russian troops withdraw from the occupied territories in Georgia and Moldova and pull out from Belarus. It should include the obligation to pay reparations and hand over all war criminals.
And the most important thing is to demilitarise Russia and to rid it of its nuclear arsenal — without it, Putin would not have started this war — or at least, establish international control over Russia’s nuclear weapons. If this is followed by some kind of Marshall Plan, that is, international aid aimed to recover what was destroyed in Russia’s economy, as well as its political and social spheres throughout the years of Putin’s rule — this will ultimately be met with public support.
A loss can often be beneficent: the defeat in the Crimean War (Crimea, once again!) back in the mid-19th century was soon followed by the abolition of serfdom. And today, the capitulation of the regime is in the interest of Russia and its people. The current state isn’t just destroying Ukraine: it’s demolishing (or has already demolished) Russia, too.
If the current regime survives, we will never be able to find a way out of the horror that we ended up in. We will be doomed to total poverty, obscurantism and archaism. Our children will be taught in schools that the Earth is flat and that it rests on three whales. We will end up on the list of cultures that used to exist at some point and then disappeared forever.
Of course, something will still be happening on our territory, but it will no longer have anything to do with us — not even the best of what we had.
On the other hand, capitulation and dismantling of the regime could give us a chance. A very small chance, we have to understand. But still, it’s a chance that we should try to take.
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