Washington Post: Ukraine War Is No Longer Newsworthy

Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP

An interesting thing happened the other day.

The Washington Post decided the Ukraine War was no longer that interesting.


The Ukraine war has been one of the top drop-down items on the Washington Post’s web masthead for about two years. During that time, it was the cause celebre of all the best people, and it was widely assumed for most of that time that it would result in a triumph for the good guys.

But lately, things have turned sour in Ukraine. The hoped-for breakthroughs from the counteroffensive didn’t happen, and despite the West pouring more aid into Ukraine than Russia’s entire defense budget, the basic math of warfare never looked great for Ukraine.

Reality reasserted itself.

Russia has never been sophisticated at warfare, and they always do poorly at the beginning stages of a war (sort of the opposite of the United States). Russia’s superpower is the ruthlessness of its leadership; the Russians seem willing to use their citizens as cannon fodder, expending men the way the US expends bullets.

Ukraine’s success early in the war was miraculous, seemingly based on having far superior training and discipline than the Russians. I cheered them on as they pushed back Russia’s offensive and remain impressed by their limited progress in pushing Russian advances back.

But the current battle lines are similar to what they were at the outbreak of the war, and dislodging the Russian army from well-prepared defenses is almost certainly beyond Ukraine’s capabilities.

Understandably, the mood in the West about the war has turned sour. Lots of money is being spent, and lives lost, to seemingly no purpose. Zelenskyy seems to be the only leader left who believes that Ukraine can push Russia out of Ukrainian territory that it has held for nearly a decade.


As the prospects for victory recede, so has political support for aid to Ukraine. This is doubly true because, to be frank, the US has already gotten out of the war what we could–the crippling of Russia’s offensive capability. By the end of 2021, the Russians had already been both humiliated and offensively neutered, and it would be years or decades until they could credibly threaten any NATO country. And, as a strategic matter, that counts as a win for the United States and Europe.

While Ukraine’s specific borders are of little strategic import to NATO, pushing back Russian aggression was a good move, in my judgment. Russia’s invasion was unjust, first of all, but more importantly, Russia’s aggression shouldn’t have been unchallenged. It was worth paying some modest price to punish Putin.

Winning the next stage of the war is certainly not worth the added increment in cost, at least not for the West. And frankly, it shouldn’t be for Ukraine either. The cost in lives would be astronomical, and retaking territory that abuts Russia would only ensure endless war, given the population density of Russian speakers in the region. The truth is that many–certainly not all, but many–citizens of those regions actually want to be Russians.

As with many border disputes, there is no perfect solution; there are only ones you can live with.

Unfortunately for Ukraine, the West has encouraged Zelenskyy to push farther than we were willing to back him. Even if Biden got this tranche of funds to continue the war, it wouldn’t substantially change the dynamic. Ukraine would need NATO troops to take back Crimea and the eastern provinces, and that will never happen.


So, as the Washington Post implicitly admits in changing its priorities, the Ukraine war will not end but fade away.

It would be better to push for a negotiated solution. Russia has committed horrible crimes by transporting Ukrainian citizens into its territory. We should help Ukraine get its citizens back.

Don’t hold your breath, though–Biden left American citizens behind in Afghanistan, so I suspect that he is even less concerned about helping Ukraine end the war gracefully.

Ukraine has never been as strategically important as Taiwan; it simply was more urgent. Let’s hope our military folks kept their eye on the real prize. Losing Taiwan would actually hurt the West in a way that losing Biden’s bankers never would have.

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