It’s hard to say whether this is a serious offer from the Brits or just an additional sweetener to move Vladimir Putin away from his current position. No matter the motive, British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said yesterday that if Russia halts its attacks on Ukraine and withdraws from the country, Great Britain “could” lift the heavy sanctions currently being imposed on the country and Putin himself, along with other individuals in his administration. She referred to the sanctions as “hard levers” that could be used to move Russia into compliance but held open the option of “snapback” sanctions if Putin went back on his word (again) and renewed aggression against its neighbor. But if Mad Vlad is in any mood to negotiate something along those lines, he’s certainly not showing any signs of it yet. (Reuters)
British foreign minister Liz Truss says sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies could be lifted if Russia withdraws from Ukraine and commits to end aggression, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday.
Britain and other Western nations are using economic sanctions to cripple the Russian economy and punish President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, seeking to press him to abandon what he calls a special military operation to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Truss held out the possibility the measures could end if Moscow changed course.
Seemingly looking to find a bright side in this mess, Truss noted how the UK had “worked very closely” with the European Union during this conflict and improved some of the relations that “were strained during Brexit.” That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose.
I’m still left wondering what Russia could do that would qualify for such an offer. A complete ceasefire would be the number one item, of course, assuming Putin actually maintains enough influence to force compliance on his non-uniformed brigands in the Donbas who have been fighting an unofficial war there since 2014. (And that’s far from certain.) But a ceasefire with thousands of troops still camped out inside of Ukraine wouldn’t mean much when they can simply start shooting again the next day.
That brings us to the idea of withdrawal. But how much of a withdrawal would the west settle for and how much would the Madman of Moscow actually be willing to offer? If he pulled out of all of western Ukraine but simply moved all of his troops into the mythical “breakaway provinces” in the east, would that be good enough? He would still be partitioning the country and seizing more Ukrainian territory by force. It also would fit in with Russia’s recently announced “pivot” into the “next stage” of the invasion. It’s not much of a compromise if we simply let him take the disputed territories and create a heavily armed border there.
This once again brings us back to the question I raised when discussing more of Joe Biden’s overseas comments that had to be “clarified” by his staff. While it’s too soon to get our hopes up and we can’t predict the actions of a madman who has repeatedly proven to be a serial liar, world leaders are starting to show signs of believing that the end of the invasion of Ukraine may be in sight. But what happens then?
Getting back Crimea looks like a lost cause. The time to do that would have been in 2014 to 2015, but nobody lifted a finger to stop Russia then. Putin needs to fully pull out of the entire country, including the Donbas region. But even that’s not enough. How could any NATO leader look at themselves in the mirror if we simply ignored the ruined cities of Ukraine and the morgues that are overflowing with the bodies of civilians killed in this war? Russia should be made to pay reparations to the families of the victims and cover the infrastructure costs of rebuilding all of the damaged hospitals, schools, and other civilian buildings at a minimum. Everyone seems eager to find increasingly lavish ways to shower money on Ukraine, but expecting us to pay to clean up the mess Putin made is simply a bridge too far.
Sadly, given the messages that Putin is sending to his own people on Russian state news, it still seems inconceivable that he would agree to anything that he couldn’t spin as a win for his agenda. And anything that looks remotely like a win for Mad Vlad will be a very real loss for both Ukraine and NATO. How much crow are we expected to eat just to get Putin to halt an unjustified war that he and only he is responsible for?