Ukraine runs the risk of becoming irredeemably dysfunctional

At the end of the day, this will most likely either produce a frozen conflict roughly along Syria-Israeli or intra-Korean lines, or a deal involving the implementation of something akin to the Minsk Agreements, or Edward Luttwak’s three-point plan. Maybe there’s a fourth or a fifth option. Regardless, the goal of this Western faction has rightly shifted. Thanks to the West’s munificence, Ukraine has been able to demonstrate that it can resist (but not overcome) aggression; now the West must be clear that its priority is coming to terms on some sort of settlement. This will almost certainly require Kyiv to accept a compromise—an unpalatable word to the Ukraine-must-win-at-all-costs faction. This should not be interpreted as necessarily requiring Ukraine to formally sign a legal document that cedes a portion of its lands in perpetuity: we know from the conflict over Karabakh in the South Caucasus that a heroic reversal is possible, and we can point to the unresolved Kosovo case as evidently remaining a point of contention between those who champion territorial integrity as a cornerstone principle of international law and those who continue to pressure Serbia, a UN member state, into “accepting the reality on the ground.” The point is that the onset of such European conflicts and their subsequent trajectories had less to do with respecting the basic tenets of the UN Charter than geopolitical ebb and flow coupled with shifts in the balance of power…

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Democracy or not, if this conflict goes on much longer, Ukraine runs the imminent risk of becoming irredeemably dysfunctional once it comes to an end—say, the Bosnia of Eastern Europe—and Russia could end up as China’s Belarus or what the Warsaw Pact states were to the Soviet Union. How could either of these scenarios, to say nothing of both, possibly be in the interest of the West?

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