Here are some suggested win-win steps that Kyiv, Moscow or Washington should take to shut down the Russo-Ukrainian war. These steps are designed to initially be taken by just one government so that they can be taken NOW. Each of these moves would “succeed even if they fail” and would stand a good chance of moving the conflict toward an honorable ceasefire.
Now that they have had some successes against the Russian government…Washington or Kyiv should make a tiny humanitarian gesture or other conciliatory gesture aimed at sparking a response-in-kind. For instance, a small-scale prisoner release or slight reduction in some sanction that only hurts the people. This should be videotaped and done with much fanfare. It should involve an implicit request for the enemy to reciprocate, in some tiny popular way. If Moscow fails to reciprocate, this will enrage the world further and strengthen Kyiv or Washington’s positions. And the gesture can always be repeated in some new form until it works. If Moscow does reciprocate, that opens the door for Kyiv or Washington to make a new, larger ameliorative gesture and so on. The goal should be an “escalating” series of conciliatory gestures until the shooting is much reduced. Each side should gain a benefit each step of the way regardless of how the other side reacts.
Moscow, for its part, should not wait for western governments to do this. It should propose and implement a small unilateral ameliorative gesture of its own, also well publicized. Western media censorship of Moscow’s statements…is becoming a serious problem, however. They can always call FreeTalkLive.com and reach 200,000 people!
This idea of “escalating humanitarian gestures” is a long shot, at least coming from a not-very-important-person like me. But back channels may have saved the world during the Cuban crisis. Maybe this will inspire someone more influential to try a back channel of their own or forward this simple idea.
Moscow has proven it can wreak enormous damage and is willing to do so when you move your empire too close to Russia. Various territories are now its to lose, and the sooner the fighting stops the less chance it loses them all…or loses everything in a cloud of ICBM’s.
Ukraine has already proven it can fight in the best traditions of Estonia’s war of independence and Finland’s Winter War. The West and/or Ukraine could easily aim for objectives similar to those which the Finns successfully achieved, during their solo war with Moscow in 1940: Capture the world’s imagination, be its heroes, put up a stunning fight, but limit and end the war in a negotiated settlement which gives Moscow enough ground to bury its dead. Finland’s Winter War was technically a draw, but it put Finland on the map as a place not to mess with and drew a line against USSR expansion. Ukraine is already on the path to accomplishing this, if it can just figure out how, when and where to stop.
These are not pro-freedom objectives par se, but they would end the war (and perhaps the nuclear exchange likelihood) without appeasement. No one today would argue that the Finns “appeased” Moscow; they disemboweled its army as Ukraine is now doing.
Once the shooting stops, or at least is dramatically reduced, the long path toward toward Ukrainian healing and world progress can continue.