Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Breaking News: Waddy is a Peskovite!


Friends, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently revealed Russia's conditions for ceasing its invasion of Ukraine.  My latest article considers those conditions and recommends that Ukraine and the West take Russia up on its offer.  We need to end this conflict ASAP, before more damage is done to Ukraine, to the economies of Ukraine and Russia, and to the prosperity and security of the world as a whole.  See what you make of my point of view.

A Ray of Hope: Russian Proposals Offer a Way Out of Our Common Predicament

Early this week, Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov made explicit the terms under which his country would be willing to cease its invasion of Ukraine. Peskov said that Russia insists that: the Ukrainian military lay down its arms, Ukraine's constitution be amended to guarantee the country's neutrality, Crimea be recognized as part of Russia, and the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine's east be recognized as independent.

While anti-Russian zealots in the West, and fervent Ukrainian patriots, may balk at these demands, they nonetheless reveal a path by which Russia, Ukraine, NATO, and the United States could reverse the current momentum favoring constant escalation in fiery rhetoric, harsh economic sanctions, and direct military action. We should, in fact, consider meeting some of Russia's demands, or encouraging the Ukrainians to do so, in order to unwind the toxic dynamics of a conflict that, arguably, serves the interests of no one.

Russia's demand that the Ukrainian military cease its operations amounts to a proposal for an effective ceasefire. Many such ceasefires have been proposed in the course of the long-running war in eastern Ukraine, and in the course of more recent hostilities, but few have worked, in practice. Nonetheless, if sufficient will exists on both sides, the termination of active fighting is achievable.

Russia's demand that Ukraine pledge its neutrality, forswear NATO membership, and enshrine these commitments in its constitution, represent the core Russian proposal, the spurning of which necessitated, in Putin's eyes, the invasion of Ukraine in the first place. Ukraine was encouraged by the West to reject Russian suggestions that Ukraine's burgeoning ties with NATO and the EU represented a threat to Russian security. Ukraine is now reaping the bitter harvest that such well-meaning advice has produced.

It is hard to see why Ukraine would not have agreed to pursue a neutral political-military course before Russia launched its invasion, given its obvious exposure to Russian political, economic, and military power. Now that the very survival of Ukraine as an independent state has been cast into doubt, one would think that the arguments for a policy of strict neutrality have become, if anything, even more compelling.

Ukraine should agree to give up its ambitions of joining NATO, and if necessary the EU as well. Positive, fruitful relations between Ukraine and the West can and will be achieved, but only if Ukraine gets its house in order in terms of Russia-Ukraine relations and avoids provocations that offend its much more powerful neighbor. Simply put, Ukraine cannot prosper, and it may not even endure as a country, unless it finds a way to coexist amicably with Russia.

Probably, if Ukraine had learned these vital lessons earlier, it would not be facing the more-or-less inevitable loss of its pro-Russian regions, including Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. Ukraine should accept that these areas will not again come under its direct control. Formalizing its loss of sovereignty over Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk would, as a matter of fact, be preferable to leaving these regions in political limbo, and thus leaving open the possibility that their status might be resolved in future by military means. Forfeiting these areas is thus the price Ukraine must pay for a comprehensive, lasting solution of its poor relations with Moscow. It is a price worth paying, especially given the fact that Russia is militarily capable of taking even more of Ukraine and of causing far greater harm, to vulnerable Ukrainian civilians and to Ukraine's vital infrastructure and social and economic fabric.

Western leaders are clearly now in the full bloom of moral indignation against Vladimir Putin and the Russian military. Their outrage and their anger will make it difficult for them to make clear-headed decisions about what is best for Ukraine, for NATO, for the West, and ultimately for Russia, too. The current conflict is one which imposes, or could impose, horrific damage on all the interested parties. The longer the conflict goes on, moreover, the more the Ukrainian and Russian peoples will suffer, albeit in different ways. Worse, the longer the conflict lasts, and the more it escalates, the greater is the danger of a fatal miscalculation leading to armed conflict between Russia and NATO, the full consequences of which would be horrific in the extreme.

Leaders in Ukraine, Russia, and throughout the West should thus consider the risks of proceeding on our current path, and they should make affirmative decisions to change course. The differences between Russia and Ukraine are far from irresolvable, and they need not – must not! – drag us all into World War III.

Now is the moment for statesmanlike leaders to step back from the brink, therefore, before the war of words between Russia and the West becomes a shooting war, and stakes considerably graver than the peace, prosperity, and freedom of Ukraine are on the line.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.


To complement my article, here's a very good analysis of the economic risks the West is taking by throwing everything but the kitchen sink, sanctions-wise, at Russia all at once: 


  1. I'm willing to bet that no matter what happens between Russia and The Ukraine, the new Cold War is now underway, and our military-industrial complex will make tons of money in the coming years. President Eisenhower warned about this in his January 1961 farewell address. Actually, this is nothing but a continuation of the old Cold War, with no breaks since Eisenhower made his speech. Endless wars and endless enemies feed the cow that always gives milk.

  2. I'm sure you're right, Ray. "Tons of money" is already being thrown at our valiant Ukrainian "allies". Wanna bet that most of the military hardware we send them eventually ends up in Putin's hands? Hey, it's only money/human lives. No biggie. I'm still hopeful we can take a deep breath and avoid a new Cold War, but every day that passes without progress in negotiations makes that a little harder.

  3. Nick,

    You and I, and a lot of other people who read and teach history know that a new Cold War is in progress.

  4. Dr. Waddy et al from Jack: In my opinion, this war cannot but engender at least a new Cold War. Liber herr GOTT; let us hope that is all that results from terrible miscalculation of fundamental Russian concerns. Russia will never tolerate losing its prime objective, that of guaranteeing that Nato will never include Ukraine. If it loses militarily this time or succumbs to sanctions it would be only a tactical retreat.If takes as much of Ukraine as to serve its aims, it will be very wary of an aroused Nato.

  5. Dr. Waddy from Jack: These are "the very fruits of madness". Profound, hair trigger mistrust now obtains again between Russia and the West. What hubris we showed in pushing Russia beyond its endurance! It responded as any great power must. The West must now do what Russia was forced to do in '62. Russia may consider it only right, given memories of '62.If Ukraine will not assure its concerns then WE must guarantee Russia that Ukraine will never be allowed in Nato.Given Russian brutality in Ukraine this is a very hard row to hoe for us but the peace of the world may, sadly but truly, require it.

  6. Dr. Waddy fromJack: The '62 overreach and consequent national humiliation may have brought Khruschev down. Biden is assured three more years in executive power. But though it may ruin him and his party he must man up and personally assure Putin that he himself will oppose any Ukrainian entry into Nato. It would be a selfless thing to do! Let his domestic agenda not restrain him!

  7. Nick, I am stunned -- and disappointed -- that you have become a Russian apologist. The only position for Ukraine to take is for Russia to withdraw without conditions. If Ukraine was to capitulate in the manner you want them to, Putin would move into Poland, into Romania, into Lithuania and Latvia -- in fact there's nothing stopping them from moving into Poland.

    Plus, even if Russia does move out of Ukraine, the sanctions should be continued unless or until Russia turns over Putin to stand for his war crimes.

  8. NATO should actually being trying to fast track Ukraine into its membership (Sweden and Finland are already pushing for membership). NATO membership would trigger Rule 5, something Russia does not want.

    1. Thanks for the lecture Rod, please keep us up to date with future pearls of wisdom. Also looking forward to your articles on Russian History. And don't forget to mention the threat Putin poses to The Holy See, also known as The Vatican. Also, suggest you go to Ukraine for some on the spot reporting. Going to the action area would increase your already sterling reputation as a first class journalist.

  9. Ray, it's a Cold War of a sort...but I reserve judgement about which sort. It's early days.

    Jack: pray tell, what do you think Russia "losing" would look like in the present circumstances? Short of an overthrow of Putin, or an effective capitulation by Ukraine, I find it hard to conceive of a Russian retreat.

    Jack, as you may have heard, there's talk of a Western guarantee of Ukraine's AND Russia's security, and perhaps that would substitute for Ukrainian membership in NATO. Any fig leaf is better than WWIII!

    Rod, you've become quite the adamantine believer in the domino theory! So, let me get this straight: we wreck Russia's economy until it hands over its president for our summary justice? We get Ukraine in NATO ASAP so U.S. troops can flood the field and win the day? Are you TRYING to start WWIII? I mean, I know you lefties think the Earth is doomed anyway, so maybe you want to get on with it and kill us all, but personally I'd rather live to see my next birthday... Simply put: your conditions are fantasies, and your fantasies will, if they become Western policy, get millions of Ukrainians needlessly killed. I guess, on the plus side, they may not get any Western progressives killed, because you aren't likely to escalate matters beyond insane rhetoric. You rarely do.

    I'm curious, Rod -- where are you getting your information and analysis these days? Even the establishment left isn't salivating for war as much as you are, as best I can tell.

  10. Nick, when did you become Neville Chamberlain? How did letting Hitler take the Sudetenland work out?

  11. Dr.Waddy from Jack: I do think it a miniscule possibility that Ukraine could defeat Russia but just perhaps it could fight them to a standstill the cost of which could become unendurable to Russia. Ukraine is putting up an amazing resistance. Russia will never give up its determination to end the threat and humiliation of the Ukrainian salient but maybe a standoff combined with a credible Western guarantee of no Nato membership for Ukraine might satisfy them. Russia certainly has demonstrated its determination to forcefully oppose any further Western presumption upon its honor and security in Ukraine. We have been taken aback but we MUST take them with utmost seriousness.Washington once said "to a fleeing enemy, open all doors". We must, though we are loathe to do so, afford Russia some satisfaction in this, to them, existential, concern. It could benefit Ukraine.

  12. Rod, I like to think there's a little bit of gray area between, say, Neville Chamberlain and Lindsey Graham... I also deplore almost all historical analogies to Hitler. Putin isn't Hitler. He's Putin. And allow me to point out that, if Putin WAS Hitler, wouldn't we be crazy to do anything BUT confront him, with military force, at the earliest opportunity? I guess that's what you're calling for? I expect the Rod Squad will be on the front lines.

    That's a wise assessment, Jack. Russia could decide the costs in Ukraine are too high, and thus a compromise peace is necessary. Look at our experience in Vietnam... It was always a question of how much of our might (and blood) we were prepared to commit. Likewise for Russia. Frankly, it's not an easy decision, i.e. when to commit one's forces, and when to call it off and pursue a different tack. My guess is Russia will only accept a peace agreement if it thinks that the Ukraine dilemma has been definitively solved. A true solution, moreover, might involve circumscribing Ukraine's future military strength... I would love to be a fly on the wall at those negotiations in Belarus!

  13. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Significant differences: Vietnam did not border on the US. Further: in Russia, resistance comparable to that the far left manifested in the US by flim flamming the tragically naive boomers, is impossible. Th e military strength of Ukraine is being sor ely tested now.Perhaps it may be limited,ala Finland, by Russia. Its an onerous prospect but sometimes it is true that "do we must what force will have us do!"

  14. Quite right, Jack: Ukraine and Vietnam aren't comparable situations. Ukraine is WAY more integral to Russia's conception of its own security. We can expect the Russians to do what's necessary to subdue Ukraine, unless, of course, the Ukrainians make it worth their while to desist.