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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, April 4, 2022

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Negotiations: The murky waters ahead

The determination of the people of Ukraine to remain a free and independent nation is being recorded on the pages of history in the blood of the Ukrainian people. The bloody struggle is likely to continue until some kind of ceasefire can be cobbled together in Istanbul and then be held in place by pressure from the free world until a formal peace treaty can be negotiated and signed. Probably, in Geneva or Vienna or Belgrade.

If ever the free world needed strong leadership from the United States and the West to enforce a peace settlement, this is the time. But, as Vladimir Putin looks out beyond his super-long conference table in the Kremlin who does he see? Joe Biden* in the USA, Boris Johnson in the UK, Emmanuel Macron in France, and Justin Trudeau in Canada. None of them likely to be mistaken for Winston Churchill. Neville Chamberlain comes more to mind.

Fortunately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stood up, like the Spartan King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.), to rally his people and the free-world against the Russian invaders of 2022 A.D.

At this point, who knows which combatant has the upper hand in Istanbul? But both nations have vital interests at stake. Russia must be able to claim enough "victory" so Vladimir Putin can remain in power. That probably means Ukraine will give up any claims to the mostly Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, forfeit any historic claims to Crimea, and become as neutral as Switzerland.

Ukraine needs to come away from Istanbul with a ceasefire enabling Ukraine to recover from some of the terrible destruction it has suffered. Then, the hoped for peace treaty must recognize Ukrainian independence and secure borders that are -- unlike Joe Biden’s*USA -- respected and enforced.

Ukraine must have guaranteed access to the world’s airways and enjoy "freedom of the seas" as spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1994). In other words, Ukraine must retain a seaport on the Black Sea and have freedom of navigation across the Black Sea into the Mediterranean and on to the Atlantic Ocean. Still, flying Air Ukraine across Russian airspace would be ill-advised.

Russia has a vital interest in the Black Sea. Sometimes, as much as 90-percent of Russia’s exports and imports move across the Black Sea. The U.N. Convention would protect Russia’s vital interests, as well. Especially, in winter. A de-militarized Black Sea is probably a pipe dream. But the world can hope.

While Red China and Russia appear to be co-conspirators in the invasion of Ukraine, President Putin would be well-advised to keep his eye on a Red China that must be lusting after Russian Siberia as a source of oil, gas, and women of child-bearing age. Putin never had as much to gain in Ukraine as Putin has to lose in Russian Siberia. Consequently, Putin would be well-advised to move some of his battered troops out of Ukraine and station them in the Land of Yak n’ Cheese.

*Election disputed.

Suggested reading: Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World by Paul Cartledge, 2007.

©2022. William Hamilton.

©1999-2022. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446

Email: william@central-view.com

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