Zelensky Must Choose Between Talks or Losing More Territory. Former US Army Chief
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will have to choose between peace talks with Moscow or the continuation of the conflict and the loss of more territory, former US Army General Daniel Davis wrote in an article.
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is loath to agree to any deal that leaves Ukrainian territory in Russian hands. The reality, however, is that he does not have what it takes to fully force Moscow off his territory. The most realistic choice he faces is between negotiating an end to the fighting that allows Ukraine to hold what it has, or to continue fighting and lose even more ground. That decision is Zelensky’s alone to make, but America also has agency and must look out for its own interests,” Davis wrote in 19FortyFive.
According to him, the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is unlikely to be successful since they do not have enough troops to cope with the Russian military given the superiority in the number of soldiers, weapons, and equipment.
The former lieutenant colonel also reflected on his own country’s policy regarding the armed conflict, lambasting the promise to continue giving Ukraine what it needs “for as long as it takes” because it is not a sustainable strategy and will almost certainly not produce a beneficial result for either the US or Ukraine. “A course correction is therefore required,” he stressed.
Davis added that many in Europe already recognise that Ukraine cannot win in a practical time frame at a reasonable cost.
In the end, the author states that, “as horrible as it would be for us to accept ending the war on undesirable terms, it would be even worse to ignore reality and continue pursuing an unattainable military objective. The cost for the former is unpleasant. The cost to the latter could be infinitely worse.”
In early April, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces might carry out an offensive in the coming weeks. For his part, the Ukrainian Defence Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, appealed to wait until the end of the mud season, known as Rasputitsa, so that the roads are useable.
Spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitry Peskov, noted that any statements about the planned offensive by the Ukrainian military are being carefully monitored and considered in their own planning of the special military operation. In this way, Russia has had ample time to prepare for this Ukrainian offensive, and although gains might initially be made, it is expected that it will fizzle out and be followed by a major Russian counterattack.
The New York Times noted that if the Ukrainian military are not successful in pushing back Russian forces, Western support for Ukraine might weaken. This is especially the case since war weariness and economic crises are gripping the EU and USA.
None-the-less, the European Commission adopted on May 3 the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) “to urgently deliver ammunition and missiles to Ukraine and to help Member States refill their stocks.”
“By introducing targeted measures including financing, the Act aims at ramping up the EU’s production capacity and addressing the current shortage of ammunition and missiles as well as their components. It will support the destocking from Member States and the joint procurement for ammunition,” the announcement added.
For her part, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:
“We stand by our promise to support Ukraine and its people, for as long as it takes. But Ukraine’s brave soldiers need sufficient military equipment to defend their country.”
However, for all the talk of supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” it is doubtful that EU member states will continue draining their economies and resources in the long-term because Kiev refuses to negotiate. This will become especially apparent as elections begin creeping up in member states and people’s fury about the dire economic situation are expressed.
In the same light as Ursula von der Leyen, White House spokesman John Kirby revealed on May 3 that the US has already handed over almost 100% of the military aid that Kiev requested for its offensive but this will not prevent them from making further deliveries.
There is evidently a clear divide between Western rulers and experts, especially when recalling that former US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis is far from the only expert urging for negotiations since Ukraine does not have a chance of winning the war despite all the brave talk and propaganda.
Pumping resources to the Ukrainian military stems from the fact that if Kiev’s offensive is unsuccessful the West would have failed in its task to preserve Ukraine’s pre-war borders and halt Russia’s advances, in addition to wasting billions upon billions of dollars to their own immense detriment. But as said, for now, it is only Western experts, and not the rulers, who are willing to face this reality.
Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.