In Ukraine, the focus is the fighting, but are negotiations possible?

As the Ukrainian military continues to make slow progress against Russian forces, questions have been raised about whether negotiations, coupled with increased Western military aid, could offer a more feasible path toward resolution.

The ongoing conflict: Ukraine’s military has been fighting to regain territory occupied by Russia since June, however, the frontlines have shifted only marginally, despite months of intense battles.
* Russian forces still hold around 16% of Ukraine’s territory in the south and east.
* Ukraine’s overt aim is to drive out all Russian troops, currently estimated to exceed 200,000 despite the prospect of a drawn-out conflict.

The dichotomous solution: Some parties propose that Western countries bolster Ukraine’s military power while simultaneously preparing for negotiations.
* This two-pronged strategy suggests that continued military aid coupled with diplomatic dialogues might lead to a resolution.
* The suggestion has received some pushback, with polls showing a majority in Ukraine prepared to pursue continued combat in the hopes of ejecting all Russian forces.

Current strategies: The current focus remains on Ukraine’s southern and eastern military offensives which have made limited but significant advances.
* Additional weaponry for Ukraine, including long-range US missiles that could further pressure Russian supply lines, is also being considered.
* The Biden administration has contributed or pledged over $100 billion to Ukraine’s military and humanitarian aid since last year, with another $24 billion now under consideration.

Fading Support: Despite strong bipartisan support for aid to Ukraine, opposition is growing, making it crucial to clearly define what success in Ukraine would look like.
* The definition of victory remains vague with possibilities ranging from an outright Ukrainian military triumph to a negotiated settlement, partially upholding Russia’s control over parts of Ukraine.
* Concerns are also being raised that the continuation of conflict in Ukraine deflects the US’s attention from China and a potential invasion of Taiwan.

Looking ahead: As it stands, neither Russia nor Ukraine is expressing interest in negotiations.
* While Russia has annexed four Ukrainian regions as permanent Russian territory, Ukraine has emphasized that it will not cede any ground.
* Despite the challenges associated with initiating negotiations, some experts emphasize the need to be prepared for potential diplomatic dialogues if and when the opportunity arises.

View original article on NPR

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