It doesn’t really matter if autocrat Vladimir Putin’s advisers are misleading him about the failures of Russia’s military in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on his economy, as Western intelligence agencies have started to chorus: The real issue is all about not letting him win.
The intel is, in fact, dubious: Unless somebody has a spy in Putin’s tiny inner circle, it’s at best informed speculation. Having worked his way up the ranks, this thug knows all too well how toadies lie. Nor can he be shocked that corruption left his forces poorly equipped on the eve of war; he knows how corrupt his entire government is. (That’s how he got super-rich.)
Recall, too, that dog-and-pony show before the invasion, where he publicly made all his advisers say Russia was ready. He’s got his scapegoats all ready.
Heck, Western officials admit this coordinated release is a mainly bid to make Putin reconsider his war.
But, while Russia didn’t win in the opening days, as it hoped, Putin is still in fair shape to achieve the goals he cited publicly before his “special operation”: control of Ukraine’s east and the area that connects already-conquered Crimea to Russia, plus (potentially) Kyiv’s commitment not to join NATO or the European Union and its recognition of his conquests.
Making those concessions is up to the Ukrainians: Do they want to fight on, at the cost of more death and destruction, to regain areas that Russia has already leveled — or go for peace now, letting Putin get what he most wanted and knowing that he’s all too likely to pocket his winnings and come back for the rest of the country in a few years?
It’s the West’s duty to simply get Ukraine all the help it can. Which makes reports that the White House is pushing President Volodymyr Zelensky to cut a deal ASAP, because Team Biden is obsessed with the fear that this could trigger World War III, all the more disturbing.
The world should pray for peace — but not at any price. And if we’re not willing to fight, we have no business pushing Ukraine to give up.