Ukraine in the Bunker

Despite the obvious and observable fact that a negotiated surrender is the best remaining option for the defeated Ukro-NATO alliance, any talk of surrender is strictly verboten.

German officials are eager for a negotiated solution and are talking about how Russia might be brought to the negotiating table, but are only doing so in private and with trusted think tank specialists, several of them said. But the officials also understand that they can’t push Ukraine in any way, because they don’t want Russia to smell weakness.

Still, there is a desire in Berlin as in Washington that the war not continue indefinitely, in part because political willingness for indefinite military and financial support for Ukraine is already beginning to wane, especially among those on the right and far right, who are gaining ground.

But for many others, the suggestion of a negotiated solution or a Plan B is too early and even immoral, said Constanze Stelzenmüller of the Brookings Institution. Mr. Putin has shown no interest in talking, but the younger generation of officials around him are, if anything, even harder-line, she said, citing a piece in Foreign Affairs by Tatiana Stanovaya.

“So anyone who wants to articulate a Plan B with these people on the other side is facing a significant burden of proof question,” she said. “Putin has said a lot of times he won’t negotiate except on his own terms, which are Ukraine’s obliteration. There is no lack of clarity there.”

Any credible Plan B would have to come from the key non-Western powers — like China, India, South Africa and Indonesia — that Russia is depending upon telling Moscow it must negotiate.

“These are the countries Putin is betting on,” she said. “It’s nothing we can say or do or offer.”

Eagerness from Paris or Berlin to negotiate too early will simply embolden Mr. Putin to manipulate that zeal, divide the West and seek concessions from Ukraine, said Ulrich Speck, a German analyst.

“Moving to diplomacy is both our strength and weakness,” he said. “We’re great at compromise and coalition, but that requires basic agreement on norms and goals. The shock of Ukraine is that this simply doesn’t exist on the other side.”

It’s always a shock to those who bluff when they deal with an opponent who is not bluffing. The Russians have made it very clear why they believe the USA to be “agreement-incapable”, which is based on the fact that the USA has reliably failed to honor its past agreements with Russia. I tend to doubt it even makes any sense for Russia to agree to a negotiated surrender, because all that will do is give NATO time to recuperate and rearm, just as it did after the Minsk agreements.

Since the neoclowns who are driving the war effort are so desperate to pivot to China, which unlike Russia is an existential threat to their influence, it’s probably in Russia’s strategic interests to refuse any negotiated surrender and hold to its objectives of freeing the nations of Europe from their subordination to US financial and military hegemony.

But Putin is fundamentally a moderate, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he would accept surrender in Ukraine in lieu of surrender in Europe, and leave the larger task to his more hardline successors.