At the NATO meeting, the United States, Europe and Ukraine say they must decide their own future with Russia

Western supporters in Ukraine have vowed to value Kiev’s decision in any solution to end the war with Russia, but there are limits to how many compromises some NATO supporters can make to win peace, as major issues related to global security are at stake.

How to end the fighting and support for Ukraine will be one of the sharpest discussions at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday. The United States and its allies insist that Ukraine be the ultimate decision-maker in defending itself and that it should not be forced to compromise or be encouraged to fight longer than it wants.

But Kiev’s decisions – and any concessions accepted by President Volodymyr Zhelensky – will help determine whether the Kremlin is being punished or brave, and countries with regional aspirations, such as China, will look into the decision. According to coalition policymakers and analysts, some NATO allies are particularly wary of handing over Ukrainian territory to Russia and touting Russian President Vladimir Putin as victorious.

Although Biden executives are skeptical that the Ukrainian government’s talks with Russia will lead to a speedy deal, officials are considering how a solution – or any outcome of the war – could affect NATO security.

“We believe it’s our job to support the Ukrainians,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said this week. “They will set military objectives. They will set objectives at the bargaining table. And I firmly believe that they are going to set those objectives for success, and we are going to give them every tool we can to help them achieve that success. But we are not going to define the outcome for the Ukrainians.

Zhelensky enters a new phase of the war, facing a political ordeal

Some European countries, especially the Communist countries with bitter memories of the Russian invasion or occupation, consider themselves next on the Kremlin’s target list and are particularly nervous about how the conflict will develop. If Putin thinks he has benefited from the invasion, by winning territory, political concessions or other benefits, he could be induced to try the same thing against other neighbors, policymakers say.

As a result, NATO leaders say the Ukrainians are engaged in a broader struggle on behalf of Europe.

“I hope they will be as tough as steel. I support maximum military support and maximum sanctions,” Latvian Defense Minister Artes Paprix said in an interview. “Russia must be defeated and the perpetrators must stand up in court.”

Even the Ukrainian vow not to join NATO – a privilege that Jelensky has publicly expressed – may be of concern to some neighboring countries. This leads to a worse reality: for some in NATO, it is better for the Ukrainians to be fighting and dying than it would be to achieve peace sooner or later in Kiev and other parts of Europe at a higher cost.

“For many of us, it is entirely human desire to see that the war is over and that people are not harmed or killed and that there are no bombings,” said a senior European ambassador. , Spoke anonymously to speak openly about important security issues. “There is an unfortunate mess. The problem is, if it ends now, there is a kind of time for Russia to reunite, and it will start again under this or some other pretext. Putin is not going to give up his goals.

Although US officials say Ukraine is not trying to push for a deal, talks between regular Secretary of State Anthony Plinken and Ukrainian envoy Dmitry Kuleba are often discussed. Blinken provided informal input about the talks during those calls. Culeba travels to Brussels to join NATO meetings this week.

White House officials are also in “close daily contact” with Zhelensky’s team about the talks, Sullivan said.

The Ukrainians have their own power: Zhelensky was ready to criticize him when he realized that his Western supporters were not enough to help him. If he advertises any attempt to pressure or reject a solution, that attempt may backfire. Because the Ukrainians are fighting, they will not be subject to Western pressure like the weaker nations.

City-wise, Ukrainian prosecutors are making Russian war crimes cases

If Ukraine and Russia agree to a peace deal, Washington and the European Union will face a separate question about imposing sanctions on the Kremlin. The answer is automatically no, some policymakers say.

“This is a little tricky for the United States and other allies. They do not want something impractical to emerge from the talks,” said Alexander Wershbo, a former NATO deputy secretary general. Depending, but it can set a bad precedent for further legalizing boundaries that become coercive and brutal. , A terrible victory, as the Russians have been doing in many parts of Ukraine. “

While officials in Paris, Berlin and elsewhere realize that Putin’s aims are more limited than their allies in Eastern Europe, NATO members are unanimous in how directly Russia poses a threat to the alliance. French officials say French President Emmanuel Macron – Marine Le Pen, a growing far-right electoral opponent this month – has tried at least 16 times since the beginning of this year to end or end the conflict with Putin. Le Pen has put forward pro-Russian views in the past.

For countries that are close to war, there is hope that they are more at risk.

“This is a big problem for us,” said a senior ambassador to Ukraine. “The fragmented, fragmented, frozen conflict in Ukraine is a very bad deal for us. The Ukraine-NATO relationship is very important to the Black Sea region.

Analysts and policymakers say that for now, despite some positive noise after last week’s talks between Ukraine and Russia, the math that supports negotiated settlement has not been included. As Russia retreats from Kiev and other cities, the Ukrainians feel that speed is on their side. Accounts of the atrocities committed under Russian rule in Pucha, Lotskine and elsewhere make it difficult for Kiev to surrender an inch of territory, as there are now fears about the fate of Ukrainian citizens under any Russian regime.

“Who are we to tell the Ukrainians what to do? How can we imagine giving up all the destruction and massacre and saying, ‘OK, that’s fine,'” said Natalie Dosi, chair of the EU policy adviser in Brussels and head of the Italian International Affairs Institute. . .

The Kremlin may not be able to back down either, because its citizens have been fed a constant lie and propaganda about what is happening on the ground and they have been told they are winning.

“I do not see any sign that we’ve come anywhere close to negotiating this,” said Andrew Weiss, a former White House adviser to Russia who now serves as vice president of research at the Carnegie Endowment. “The Russians are ready to continue the atrocities in Ukraine with the goal of surrendering the Ukrainians and retreating to the West, and the Ukrainians are ready to fight. I do not see the conditions for a solution.”

In the ruined Chernihiv, the Russian siege left a city, ‘Why?’

While NATO officials say they have not attempted to dictate the terms of a possible agreement with Kiev, some Western officials have analyzed the country’s preferences for Ukraine and the possible consequences of the talks and war.

The Allies – especially the United States, given the amount of military aid to Ukraine – may have indirectly, or perhaps accidentally, exercised their most significant dominance in their decisions on whether or not to provide any weapons to Ukraine. Those decisions have had a direct impact on the war situation, and in turn, the Ukrainian government’s approach to peace talks.

In exchange for Ukraine agreeing to give up its NATO aspirations, it has stated that it wants to defend legally bound security guarantees from the United States and others if it is attacked. A U.S. official has said the U.S. military has not been consulted about what Western security guarantees for Ukraine would look like. The official said there was not much interest in such a view among senior military leaders.

“They seem to be looking for Article V without being a NATO nation, and this would be a very difficult line with the international community,” the official said, referring to NATO’s key joint-security guarantee. .

No matter how the war ends, the United States plans to reconsider its military position in Europe. Prior to the conflict, there were more than 80,000 U.S. troops on the continent. Today, there are more than 100,000 people, with temporary deployments designed to elevate the eastern side of NATO, the official said.

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