No endgame for Ukraine

Christof Rühl

Many of us are anxiously anticipating what the endgame will look like in the stand-off between Russia and Ukraine. Invasion or incursion, sanctions or retreat, or will diplomacy manage to find a face-saving solution?

This may well be the wrong perspective. Instead of finding an endpoint, we may have to get used to the idea of a “frozen” conflict — a drawn-out, slow-burning and continuous source of irritation.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to put back together what remains of earlier Russian empires is not driven by fear of an imminent attack: it is designed to deny its citizens alternative visions of life in a post-Soviet society.

This is the first item we need to understand. Russia does not want a prosperous and thriving Ukrainian democracy at its border. It wants a subservient or a failing state. There is no room for win-win thinking in this approach.

Second, the Western alliance, in particular energy-dependent Europe, is unable to stop the unfolding of a more persistent military threat.

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