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Weapons Alone Will Not Resolve the Ukraine Conflict

Sooner or later, the West will have to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While a ceasefire in Ukraine will fall far short of resolving national grievances on both sides, it is the only realistic way to alleviate the suffering of those most affected by the war.

MADRID – Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to change the course of history. But his plan – a war against Ukraine aimed at partly redressing the Soviet Union’s dissolution, which he called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century” – is doomed to fail. Even if Russia manages to revive its failing military campaign, whatever gains it makes will amount to a Pyrrhic victory that will do little to support Putin’s claims of Russian greatness.

Russian troops are prevailing in Mariupol, but winning a battle does not mean winning the war. Putin, given his interest in Russian history, should know that military victories do not always lead to geopolitical triumphs. The Soviet Union’s invasions of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981, were relatively small battles won by a power that was losing the Cold War against the West’s far more resilient social and economic model.

Putin is not winning the battles he expected to in Ukraine, and is far from being able to wage the war of occupation that would be required to deny Ukraine its existence as an independent state. The recent sinking of the Russian warship Moskva is the most visible and humiliating proof of this to date.

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