As the war in Ukraine enters week two, military operations are becoming less fascinating than the endinggame. The Russian military started out with a daring, slashing attack designed to showcase its “reforms” and the billions of rubles Putin has lavished on improving pay and equipment. It has now reverted back to doing what it is good at. The slow and grinding attacks it is launching on people and infrastructure are causing havoc. There will be no “thunder runs” through Kiev because the Russian army doesn’t have the tactical dexterity to pull it off, and the Russian tanks don’t seem to have enough diesel to make it happen.
NBC reported the offer of terms by Russia to Ukraine on the initial day of the invasion. Ukraine was willing to give up her short skirts in exchange for Russia’s withdrawal from the invasion. The demands consisted of a promise to neutrality, and an agreement for Ukraine to not permit foreign troops or weapons onto its soil. In essence, Ukraine was required to accept that Ukraine is no longer independent. For more details, see REPORT: Russia offers terms of surrender to Ukraine.
Right now, Russian and Ukrainian representatives are engaged in “negotiations,” but after a phone call between Putin and the French President, who is also the current EU president, Emmanuel Macron.
A phone conversation between President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday offered little hope that the fighting in Ukraine would abate any time soon, with the Kremlin saying it had no intention of backing down from a war that “is going according to plan” and the French presidency warning that Mr. Putin appeared determined to invade the entire country.
“Our analysis of the military operations is that the Russian ambitions are to take control of all of Ukraine,” said a senior official in the French presidency, who briefed reporters on the 90-minute conversation between the two leaders and said Mr. Macron expressed “pessimism” after the call.
In its own readout of the call, the Kremlin said that Mr. Putin had told his French counterpart that his main goal was “the demilitarization and neutral status of Ukraine.” Those goals, the Kremlin said, “will be achieved no matter what.”
Mr. Putin also denied that Russian forces were attacking civilians, dismissing them as “elements of an anti-Russian disinformation campaign.”
The Washington Post published this report.
Pravda reported that a previous call to Macron was similar.
Putin stated that ‘resolution of the situation in Ukraine’ is possible only on the unconditional agreement too all “lawful interests of Russia in the security sphere”. Three conditions were set by the Kremlin:
- Recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea
- Completing the tasks of the “demilitarisation and denazification of the Ukrainian state”
- Ensuring Ukraine’s “neutral status”.
This is all looking very similar to the triumphalist victory essay published in multiple Russian media outlets last Saturday and which was quickly 404ed that declared Russia intended to absorb both Ukraine and Belorus to achieve Putin’s goal of reuniting all Russians, see Did a Quickly Deleted Essay in Russian Media Explain What Vladimir Putin Wants Russia to Gain From the Ukraine Invasion?.
We are currently in the last stages of this war. The question is whether international sanctions can breach Russia’s threshold of pain and force them to negotiate a settlement that does not result in the eradication of Ukraine or will Putin be able to persist and achieve his goals.