I know that some in the West are suggesting that there may be a way to negotiate and end to the war in Ukraine and I think they do not understand what Russia is now likely to demand to secure such a deal. For starters, will Russia insist on securing the rights to all territory east of the Dnieper River and on a special status for Odessa? I think so. Odessa would no longer be ruled by Ukraine. I also would expect Russia to demand (non-negotiable) the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of 42 Russian speaking Ukrainians in 2014 who sought refuge in the Trade Unions House.
I also would expect that Russia will demand the dismantling of NATO Aegis missile systems in Poland and Romania and a ban on U.S. or NATO troops being posted in countries that share a border with Ukraine. In light of Russia’s stated goal of de-nazification I would not be surprised if Russia demands the laws of Ukraine be changed and that Nazi-affiliated parties and symbols be banned.
Until Ukraine suffers an irreversible defeat on the battlefield, I think there is little incentive for the United States and its NATO allies to entertain any of the positions outlined above. What worries me is that the Biden Administration has pinned so much of its re-election strategy on a success in Ukraine that it will do something stupid and escalate by using U.S. military personnel to pilot combat aircraft or tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles. This means American military personnel will die in significant numbers in Ukraine and potentially generate political pressure in the United States to expand the war. However, if Biden orders U.S. military troops into battle in Ukraine without Congressional approval I think it will ignite a political firestorm in America that will consume what remains of his Presidency.
The West is failing to grasp the reality that Russia believes it is winning the war in Ukraine and that it is not suffering economic or political damage at home. And, when you factor in the international arena, the war has proven to be a boon for Russia’s efforts to help create a new international financial/trade system that circumvents Washington’s control. In other words, Russia has little incentive to entertain negotiations that would require Russian concessions.