The negative consequences of the conflict are global and unsustainable; if anyone benefits from prolonged fighting, it’s Russia.

by Suzanne Loftus, Responsible Statecraft

It lies in our interest — and that of the Ukrainians — to avoid a prolonged war in Ukraine. There is an important line between the West helping Ukraine defend itself, escalating the war to a dangerous level, and merely advancing a war of attrition — the latter of which may end up playing into Russian hands.

Given the catastrophically high cost of Russia’s invasion in human, economic, and political terms, and given that even those who advocate continuing to arm Ukraine say the outcome of the war is unclear, or even unwinnable, the United States should pair its military assistance with concrete steps towards laying the foundations for a peaceful end to the war. The timing may be ripe thanks to the fact that Western aid and Ukrainian successes on the battlefield have placed Ukraine in a favorable position for negotiations.

Ukrainian soldier stands on the check point to the city Irpin near Kyiv during the evacuation of local people under the shelling of the Russian troops.

While some analysts understand the urgency to bring the war to an end, including Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, both former national security cabinet officials in the George W. Bush administration, they advocate for doing so by arming Ukraine with longer-range missiles and other offensive weapons in the belief it can prevail against Russia. Others, slightly more conscious of the escalatory risks of a “total defeat” strategy, including Ivo Daalder of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and James Goldgeier of the Brookings Institution, do not seem to view a protracted conflict as something to avoid at all costs. They argue instead, that a prolonged war is the most likely scenario and that the West should do its best to support Ukraine through this. Neither approach would lead to a positive outcome.

Read More