Here are some suggested win-win steps that Kyiv, Moscow or Washington chould take to shut down the Russo-Ukrainian war. They are designed to be taken by just one government so that they can be taken NOW. Each of these moves would “succeed even if they fail” and should move the conflict toward an honorable ceasefire between now and the end of March.
Now that they have had some success against the Russian government…Washington or Kyiv should make a tiny humanitarian gesture or other conciliatory gesture aimed at sparking a response-in-kind. For instance, a small-scale prisoner release or slight reduction in some sanction that only hurts the people. This should be videotaped and done with much fanfare. It should involve a request for the enemy to reciprocate, in some tiny popular way. If Moscow fails to reciprocate, this will enrage the world further and strengthen Kyiv or Washington’s positions. If it does reciprocate, that opens the door for Kyiv or Washington to make a new, larger ameliorative gesture and so on. The goal should be an “escalating” series of conciliatory gestures until the shooting stops; each side will gain a benefit each step of the way regardless of how the other side reacts.
Moscow, for its part, should not wait for western governments to do this. It should propose and implement a small unilateral ameliorative gesture of its own, also well publicized. Western media censorship of Moscow’s statements…is becoming a serious problem however. They can always call FreeTalkLive.com to reach 200,000 people!
The idea is a long shot, coming from a not-very-important-person like me. But back channels may have saved the world during the Cuban crisis, and maybe this will inspire someone more influential to try a back channel of their own or forward this simple idea. Moscow has proven it can wreak enormous damage and is willing to do so, various territories are now its to lose and the sooner the fighting stops the less chance it loses them all…or loses everything in a cloud of ICBM’s.
The West or Ukraine could easily aim for objectives similar to those which the Finns successfully achieved, during their solo war with Moscow in 1940: Capture the world’s imagination, be its heroes, put up a stunning fight, but limit and end the war in a negotiated settlement which gives Moscow enough ground to bury its dead. The war would technically be a draw, but no one ever wants to mess with Finland again. Ukraine is already on the path to accomplishing this, if it can just figure out when and where to stop.
These are not pro-freedom objectives par se, but they would end the war (and perhaps the nuclear exchange likelihood) without appeasement. From there the long path toward toward Ukrainian healing and world progress can continue, at least for a while.