For Putin to throw himself out, the West must agree on three issues

Analysis by Thomas Jäger: As long as the West holds together on 3 issues, Putin will hardly have a chance

In the war with Ukraine, Vladimir Putin still hopes that the West will slide apart in its support. So far, there has been little evidence of this. In the future, however, there will be three questions in focus that supporters must find a common answer to in order not to give Putin a chance.

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With the war against Ukraine, Russia will not achieve any political goal as it has set itself. Ukraine does not want a pro-Russian government. The Eastern European states will not lose the support of their alliance partners. The United States will remain committed to European security. About when and how the war in Ukraine will end will not change that.

So why is Russia not changing strategy and trying to find a quick solution to the war? The willingness to do so could be demonstrated by the fact that Russia temporarily stopped the fire on Ukrainian villages and towns. The reason is that President Putin still assumes that the West will soon lose the unity he did not expect.

Putin is still lurking for rifts between Western democracies

In Putin’s worldview, liberal democracies are weak and only interested in profit, which is why they cannot withstand political challenges. Therefore, should cracks in Western solidarity arise before Russia is overwhelmed by economic costs and the military situation becomes precarious, Putin believes that new opportunities may open up to divide the West and achieve its political goals: to dominate Ukraine, Eastern Europe in to transform weak buffer states and push the United States back out of Europe.

About the expert

Prof. Dr. Thomas Jäger has held the chair of international politics and foreign policy at the University of Cologne since 1999. His research focuses on international relations and American and German foreign policy.

There is already disagreement on three issues among the states that support Ukraine. Answering them while keeping the alliance together is currently one of the most important political tasks of the supporting states. Otherwise, total opposition to Russia’s war threatens to wane.

The supporting countries need to clarify three issues

First, it must be clarified what goals are to be achieved in the war. Secondly, there is the relationship between Ukraine and the EU. Third, finally the question of how to deal with Russia after the war. In all three questions, there are not incompatible but different views. Nevertheless, the European states and the United States must try to reach an agreement with Ukraine.

1. What goals are to be achieved in war?

The question of what goals to achieve in the war has been answered in various ways over the past few weeks. And this from both Russia and Ukraine. This is not surprising because the course of the war is dynamic, the assessment of the situation changes and thus the goals.

While Russia was originally busy taking over the whole of Ukraine, it is currently concentrating on the eastern and southern parts of the country. If Ukraine was willing to negotiate the relinquishment of territory, this will decreased, the more successful the course of the war was from the Ukrainian point of view. President Zelenskyy has now declared that the war can only end if all Ukrainian territories are recaptured. But this position may also change again, depending on the course of the war.

Ukraine’s supporters must also address this issue, because the intensity and duration of their willingness to help depends on it. This shows that the Eastern European states and the United States are striving for a military victory for Ukraine and are ready to support a longer war, while other states – France, Italy, Germany – have repeatedly emphasized that a speedy end to the war is particularly important. important.

But it can only be achieved through negotiations and probably through the relinquishment of territory. So is it now a matter of bringing the war to a quick end by relinquishing territory, restoring pre-war conditions or pushing Russia back to Ukraine’s borders? As the war progresses, the response may change, requiring followers to create dynamic understanding.

2. How is the relationship between the West and Ukraine?

The answer to the second question presupposes that Russia does not win this war, because only then should relations between Ukraine and the EU be considered. The Eastern European states, but also many voices throughout Europe, are striving for the rapid accession of Ukraine to the EU.

Others, above all the French president and the German chancellor, are more reserved. It can take years and decades to become a full member. At the same time, the support that the EU countries have also promised each other has not yet been discussed in public. On the contrary, the debate is currently marked by Ukraine’s political and cultural ties with Europe and the country’s economic reconstruction.

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The Ukrainian Foreign Minister has pointed out that the promised must also apply. This is an important indication because the EU has often reflected the wishes of other states and allowed them to be broken in the face of the harsh reality of the conditions of accession.

She will show whether the idea of ​​a preliminary step to membership, as proposed by the French president, is useful. There is currently no consensus. But it must be found so as not to allow Russia to divide the EU on this issue. The Russian leadership will still do so with hybrid attacks on public opinion in the EU states, pressure on the EU states Sweden and Finland, cyber attacks and more.

3. What should the deal with Russia look like?

Which raises the third question of how to deal with Russia when the war is either over or has turned into a protracted war of attrition, trench warfare and partisan war. For many, it is clear that normal relations can no longer be established with Putin’s Russia.

The German foreign minister also pointed out that turning away from Russian energy supplies was “forever”. US policy would like to use sanctions to weaken Russia militarily in the long run. It is also difficult to imagine that European countries will again supply goods and components that can be used for military purposes to Russia in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, President Putin can remain in office at least until 2036. It is a long time to negotiate climate policy, arms control, non-proliferation and the Arctic – all areas where Russia can not be ruled out if the negotiations are to yield effective results.

The question of how to deal with Russia in the future is not a problem at the moment. At present, it is still a matter of increasing economic pressure on Russia. There is broad agreement on this. The decision on an oil embargo from the EU shows the first deviations, but they are not formative.

However, it is up to the Western states to reach agreement at best also on future relations with Russia. This takes time and must take into account vastly different interests and perspectives.


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