Well finally. On the 15th day of the war, Ukrainians and Russians negotiate with each other. They don’t just talk about escape corridors from individual cities on a subordinate level. Foreign Ministers Dmytro Kuleba and Sergei Lavrov talk about the big picture: the war and the conflicting interests that led to it, as well as ways out of killing and being killed.
That inspires hope, even if the first round didn’t even achieve a ceasefire. It’s a start. Will continue to negotiate. Only: What is the hope that they will soon reach an understanding based on? Follow the patterns of conflict resolution in democratic societies.
Whether collective agreements or coalition agreements: the partners talk to each other. Neither side demands the submission of the other. Violence is not an option. Even the use of physical pressure, such as the right to strike and lockout, is regulated between employers and unions.
The Russian war against Ukraine takes place in a different world. Vladimir Putin despises the law. He thinks that military force is the strongest argument.
As long as he can improve his position on the battlefield, he only trades on appearance. Only when Russian losses are too high and it can no longer hit its maximum targets will it make concessions.
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The same applies to Ukraine. How should President Volodymyr Zelenskyy explain to citizens that he is giving up territories while defending his homeland with courage and defiance of death?
The resistance is more successful than expected. The more casualties Russian troops suffer, the more cutbacks Putin has to make in terms of his war goals. He can no longer hope to break the resistance. He too continues in conquered territory.
The fight will intensify at first.
So do we have to give up hope of a negotiated peace? No, but even hope is a matter of time. For the next few weeks you will have to arm yourself with patience. Experts warn that the situation will only get worse. Infuriated by the slow progress, Putin will resort to even more drastic measures and force war on the cities. He will take time for Western sanctions to take effect.
His troops cut off the supply of water, electricity and food to the civilian population. They shoot in kindergartens and hospitals. There is much to indicate that these are not unintended side effects of war, but deliberate destruction, although that would be a war crime. The forbidden war against the civilian population was already part of Putin’s strategy in Chechnya and Syria. They escape.
You can read more about the war against Ukraine on Tagesspiegel Plus:
For Western societies living in peace, these are disturbing prospects. Doesn’t responsibility demand negotiating an end to the killings, almost at any price?
No one can tell the Ukrainians how long they can defend themselves.
However, this maxim ignores the perspective of those affected. The citizens of Ukraine are fighting for their freedom and their homeland. Nobody from the outside can tell them what sacrifices they are willing to make. You have to decide how long you want to resist and when it is no longer useful.
Also in their deliberations is the distressing question of the value of the commitments made by Putin at the negotiating table. He reliably broke deals. Russia had guaranteed in treaties that it would protect Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. In recent days, escape corridors were arranged, which were then mined or shot at.
Give up all hope: you should never do that. But they have to be measured against reality, both big and small. Until recently, it was considered certain that there would be no more wars in Europe. The law-based peace order is stronger.
Putin has reduced this certainty to pure hope. He returns Europe to a past where the strongest took by force what they wanted. One would like to hope that the Ukrainians will prevent this with the help of the West. Because if he got away with it, what hope is left for Europe?