Why, Despite RAND’s Recommendation, the Ukraine War Is Unlikely to End in a Negotiated Settlement

On the danger of treating timing as proof of connection, one has to surprise why the State Division noticed match to plant a narrative in the obvious method potential, by granting an interview with Anthony Blinken to one of many spooks’ favourite whispers, David Ignatius of the Washington Put up (full textual content may be discovered right here) . Not solely was there no information set off for the chat, however the interview’s premise was peculiar: speaking concerning the endgame of the battle and the US put up battle coverage for Ukraine appears may peculiar since no decision for the battle is in sight.

And the interview itself was odd. Blinken did make a significant concession to actuality in acknowledging that Ukraine wouldn’t be capable to retake Crimea any time quickly. He expects the US to proceed to arm Ukraine with out having a treaty. But no the place does the article recommend how the battle may finish, not to mention point out the “n” phrase, negotiate. The Blinken/State imaginative and prescient appears to be:

US and NATO assist Ukraine > *Magic* > Warfare ends > US and NATO assist Ukraine

One idea is that this text is meant to begin managing down expectations within the US and Ukraine by conceding that Crimea is a misplaced trigger. Though that could be a step in the best course, there’s a protracted highway between that admission and acknowledging the Russian battlefield benefit even earlier than its not too long ago mobilized troops have been put to work. The Ignatius piece is larded with “Russia is dropping” assertions like ” Vladimir Putin has failed” and “U.S. weapons assist pulverize Putin’s invasion drive.”

So what’s the level of this message, since this a chunk offered on this method is supposed to ship a message?

One guess is that Blinken cleared his throat to undercut the kind of contemporaneously-released RAND paper, Avoiding a Lengthy Warfare, embedded on the finish of this put up. I strongly urge you to learn it in full. It accommodates a exceptional variety of reality-challenged statements about Russian efficiency and politics. And what’s notably disconcerting is that the piece reads as if these are RAND’s conclusions, versus the authors having to navigate a tough terrain of misperceptions.

No matter what one makes of RAND’s tackle Russia, the paper presents ending the battle as in America’s curiosity, and additional a political settlement can be extra useful to the US {that a} mere armistice, as in halt to combating with no settlement of the drivers of the battle.

The paper’s first sentence, “Dialogue of the Russia-Ukraine battle in Washington is more and more dominated by the query of the way it may finish.” At a minimal, that may be learn as an admission that even the oldsters within the Beltway bubble are realizing that the battle just isn’t going in any respect effectively for Ukraine.

Nonetheless, Blinken scotches the concept there may be something that must be mentioned. Per Ignatius:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his technique for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence throughout an interview on Monday on the State Division…Russia’s colossal failure to attain its army targets, Blinken believes, ought to now spur the US and its allies to start fascinated about the form of postwar Ukraine — and easy methods to create a simply and sturdy peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity and permits it to discourage and, if needed, defend towards any future aggression. In different phrases, Russia shouldn’t be in a position to relaxation, regroup and reattack.

In different phrases, Blinken is in “Nothing to see right here” mode with respect to how and the place the battle goes, and as an alternative needs to concentrate on the intense shiny object of what to do after the battle is, erm, resolved.

Blinken requires everlasting battle with Russia, regardless of the blather about peace. Something lower than ongoing battle would permit Russia to refit.

Therefore it’s not arduous to see that this interview was meant partly to sign State’s opposition to the RAND evaluation, in addition to another pro-negotiation factions, say on the Pentagon.

With that understanding, it’s peculiar to see Western pundit and officers greater than sometimes discuss negotiations when it apparent to a cautious reader that they’re merely making an attempt to not appear to be warmongers. And even the few which are real ignore the elephant within the room. From the RAND paper:

Since neither aspect seems to have the intention or capabilities to attain absolute victory, the battle will almost definitely finish with some form of negotiated final result. Negotiated ends to wars, in contrast to absolute victories, require the belligerents to just accept a level of danger that the phrases of the peace may very well be violated; even the relative “loser” within the battle will retain the flexibility to threaten the opposite aspect.

Discover once more that RAND is arguing (over the course of the paper) that the US has sufficient to lose that it will be higher served to barter an finish to the battle regardless that that may imply Russia would nonetheless be ready to wage battle. Blinken rejects that view; his “simply” finish to the battle requires a prostrated Russia.

The RAND overview states:

Though Washington can’t by itself decide the battle’s period, it might probably take steps that make an eventual negotiated finish to the battle extra probably.

Does nobody in coverage circles within the US perceive that the “negotiation” horse was taken out and shot?

To state what should be apparent: Russia has each cause to not belief the US and NATO, given weird bragging about dangerous religion conduct like utilizing Minsk accords to purchase time to arm Ukraine and planning to make use of peace talks to stall and once more strengthen Ukraine. Their message is obvious: Russia has no proper to ask for something, and its individuals have to be subjugated and assimilated. Once more, as many have identified, the West’s demonization of all issues Russian, and never simply the Russian authorities, has confirmed the view that this combat is existential, not only for the Russian state, but in addition for the Russian nation and tradition. Annalena Baerbock’s assertion that Germany is at battle with Russia if nothing else poured extra gas on the fireplace of Russia mistrust.2

This may be all effectively and good, in a may makes proper form of means, if the US might push Russia round. However that isn’t figuring out so effectively. The sanctions did not prostrate Russia, and have harmed the collective West. Russia has destroyed the unique Ukraine combating drive, dispatched a lot of what may be credibly referred to as a second military, and absent main errors, seems to be set to defeat a 3rd, assured-to-be-weaker drive3

The issue now with the place the US and NATO have gotten themselves is all they know easy methods to do is escalate once they have just about nothing left to escalate with. The sanctions are tapped out. Three brigades of tanks, which is the estimate of what all of the deliveries may add as much as, will at most delay the inevitable for a bit. When you had been a cynic, you can regard this effort as advancing the “demilitarize NATO” mission:

Brian Berletic has been chronicling the US/NATO weapons deliveries meticulously and discussing their (too typically non) suitability. Berletic has additionally repeatedly identified that the arms equipped have been shrinking in quantity. So the tanks and potential addition of fighter jets seems to be to be an train in Doing One thing, and in addition in holding coalition members visibly dedicated to Challenge Ukraine.4.

When you don’t imagine Berletic, one other inform is Russia’s response. Russia continues to be within the course of of coaching a lot of its not too long ago mobilized troops. Specialists like Scott Ritter, who estimated an earlier offensive launch date, at the moment are saying Russia is probably not able to go till the beginning of March, allegedly as a result of they really feel they’ve the posh of time need their forces to function successfully. If Russia had been involved concerning the tank and different noises, one would count on them to speed up their timetable and make strikes earlier than the brand new goodies arrive.

In holding, Maria Zarakhova, the Russian overseas ministry spokeswoman, reacted to the US non-proposals in a January 27 press briefing. From the interpretation offered by John Helmer:

For its half, Russia has all the time remained open to the potential for utilizing diplomatic and negotiation instruments. This has been talked about repeatedly. All this has been utilized, and all that is blocked by the Kiev regime beneath the dictation of the West. The ‘collective West’, NATO, the EU have lengthy deserted diplomacy, chosen a distinct path, and commenced to create safety threats, setting fireplace, inciting, pushing, and easily driving the European continent to a world disaster. What is occurring now just isn’t a query of Ukraine, Russia and even the European continent. It is a a lot larger and international factor…

At the moment I heard that Washington stated that if Russia does one thing like this or that, possibly some sanctions or one thing else will likely be lifted. Who’s listening to this in any respect? Who wants it? Who pays consideration to this in any respect? Somebody stated one thing, some sanctions. That’s not the problem.

In opposition to the background of the truth that heavy weapons are being equipped, it isn’t needed to speak about what’s going to occur if somebody does one thing there…

Given that every one negotiations have been terminated by Ukraine, this concern will likely be resolved on the bottom. Underneath strain or by itself, Kiev has banned any negotiations with Russia on the authorities stage. In order that’s it. The remainder is for the army specialists.

Nonetheless, there are some critical dangers with the brand new gear escalation, even when militarily there may be lower than meets the attention. One is that the UK is champing on the bit to ship Ukraine longer vary missiles. However all that’s prone to accomplish is to substantiate that Russia must have a giant margin of safety across the 4 oblasts that it now considers to be Russian territory. One other is that if the West provides Ukraine fighter jets, Ukraine is now wanting working airstrips and Russia will ensure that any remaining ones will likely be disabled. So will planes fly from Poland? And what’s going to Russia make of that?

And that’s earlier than attending to the opposite prices of holding Ukraine going. Though the US and its EU allies make noises about being dedicated for so long as it takes, they can’t afford the price of carrying Ukraine economically on an open-ended foundation. The truth that the Republicans have been taking the view that Ukraine funding just isn’t open-ended says the cash spigot will likely be turned down, however how shortly and the way a lot is anybody’s guess. However bear in mind, direct funding of the Ukraine authorities, as in police, pensions, hospitals, academics, does little for the US army industrial advanced.

Given all the above, it isn’t stunning that there are an increasing number of indicators of doubts concerning the battle. Even probably the most security-state-connected media retailers, just like the New York Occasions, have taken to working the occasional piece that successfully admits issues should not going effectively for Ukraine. Though that’s effectively wanting acknowledging that Ukraine’s odd of prevailing are nil, and the probability that it turns into a failed state are excessive, breaks from the previous relentless cheerleading are vital.

Specialists like Colonel Macgregor and different former insiders have claimed that an increasing number of officers on the Pentagon and different NATO armed forces are coming to see Ukraine as a dropping trigger and are involved about how a lot the West is committing. The truth that RAND launched a brand new report on Ukraine that expresses doubts, even when in suppose tank communicate, ought to make it extra acceptable for insiders to talk up.

The issue is, nonetheless, that inside establishments, dedicated teams with robust ideologies routinely punch above their weight and may transfer the complete group. Take a look at Ultras, the arduous Brexiteers, who over time moved the talk about what Brexit amounted to into a really arduous Brexit. Or within the US, how the regulation and economics motion, as soon as thought to be fringe and eccentric, is mainstream and all too typically, influential.

On prime of that, the Blob and never presidents dictate coverage. Obama was unable to shut Gitmo. Trump got here into workplace wanting to enhance relations with Russia in order to isolate China and wound up imposing extra sanctions on Russia. In his interviews with Oliver Stone, Putin described how he and Bush had productive discussions and got here to concrete understandings, which had been ultimately walked again through turgidly-worded memos. Putin concluded that the paperwork and never elected officers drove overseas coverage.

The neocons have the bit of their tooth regardless of their abysmal report. Within the Ukraine mission, they’re aided by the benefit of pinning sins of the outdated USSR onto trendy Russia, and the best way Russian research at US universities has turn into “Putin-hating research,” within the phrases of Scott Ritter.

Russian officers are merely doing the plain: taking the measure of collective West intentions from their actions, which is to proceed to arm Ukraine as greatest they’ll and do their greatest to stoke home assist for the battle. And whether or not you see the US/NATO dedication as tenacious or foolhardy, the important thing officers are so deeply invested that it’s arduous to see how they may ever climb down.


1 Even when most commentators misinterpret the state of play, they’ll typically later determine what important bit of knowledge they lacked that may have modified their evaluation. As an example, Ukraine skeptics missed that Russia’s manning of a really lengthy line of contact thinned out on the finish of final summer time, when a lot of the contract troopers whose phrases of service had completed opted to go residence. Bizarrely, the Ministry of Protection has assumed in any other case. That mistake helped arrange the Ukraine “victory” in Kharkiv.

2 For these of you who argue that Russia ought to pay a value for its invasion of Ukraine (and no, that was really not what the sanctions had been about though it has been offered that means. They had been imposed on February 22, as in after Russia acknowledged the breakaway republics and entered right into a mutual protection settlement, however earlier than the SMO started), the US didn’t pursue the destruction of Germany as a nation after World Warfare I or II. However then once more, Germans should not untermenschen.

3 Apart from problems with general numbers being insufficient and a hodgepodge of kit making a logistical nightmare, a few of the much-touted weaponry is vaporware. Jacob Dreizen, on the finish of a really non-PC put up, notes:

Final time, concerning the tanks, I forgot to say one thing.

They’ll at the least TRY with the German tanks, however the Abrams isn’t going for use within the Ukraine in any respect.

(Maybe as a cellular pillbox to protect Kiev, that’s about it.)


This stuff have a turbine engine, they run on jet gas.

With all of the Ukraine’s refineries bombed out of fee, it’s sufficient work to herald gasoline (and diesel for the military) from Moldova and elsewhere (all at U.S. expense.)

To have a separate logistics stream for jet gas going to the entrance traces, ONLY for one sure tank… that’s ridiculous.

Not occurring.

To not point out, this factor will get nearly three gallons to the mile. (Sure, you learn that proper.)

The place’s Brandon’s EPA?

And who within the Ukraine will keep that turbine engine?


The Abrams was by no means minimize out for a “actual” battle.

I sat inside one, again in 1998, was proven the options. It’s a formidable factor.

It does have another shortcomings.

In contrast to all trendy Russian/Ukrainian tanks, it has no autoloader…..

…..so Ukrainian loaders must be chosen (energy required) and educated, to load, quick, even whereas the tank is transferring.

Not an in a single day ability.

4 The US has been arms-twisting numerous allies (pun meant) and never getting very far, both as a result of they don’t wish to take sides or want the gear for their very own use and in contrast to Germany, should not prepared to have interaction in self hurt to show dedication.

00 RAND_PEA2510-1