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Leonid Bershidsky

It’s Not Ukraine’s ‘Peace for Our Time’ Moment

Amid growing calls from outsiders for concessions to end the war, President Volodymr Zelenskiy still has very good reasons to stay away from the negotiating table.

Deals with the devil often become undone. 

Deals with the devil often become undone. 

Photographer: Central Press/Hulton Archive

Suddenly — or perhaps not so suddenly, after a year of this century’s bloodiest fighting — peace in Ukraine is being talked up by the most diverse actors. But since any peace deal at this point would require territorial concessions from Ukraine, only a string of decisive — and utterly unfeasible — Russian battlefield victories could lead the parties to the negotiating table.

The Chinese government’s 12-point proposal involves a cessation of hostilities in exchange for an end to “unilateral sanctions” and refers, rather vaguely, to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

German left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht staged a rally in Berlin last weekend where between 13,000 and 50,000 people, according to different estimates, demanded an end to weapons deliveries for Ukraine and the start of negotiations with Russia to prevent further escalation of the conflict, perhaps even to nuclear war. Speakers at the gathering, which attracted supporters of both the extreme left and the hard right, as well as some pacifist centrists, declared that the defeat of a nuclear power such as Russia on the battlefield was impossible, so diplomacy was the only path forward.