“We are all tired of the war.” The only ones who have the right to say this are those who are on the battlefields of Ukraine. And those who are living in towns and cities that summon their residents several times a day to take shelter. And those involuntarily scattered throughout Europe and North America waiting for news from or about their loved ones. And those who don’t know whether they can ever resume life where they left off. And even those in the Ukrainian diaspora who are daily glued to their computers hoping to catch some good news while supporting their brethren.

For the forthcoming Peace Summit to have beneficial results, the participants must remember that only one man and one nation are responsible for this war and can end it. The other party is simply defending itself and seeking to recover its territory.

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If the Summit begins from that premise, it will end successfully and reinforce the belief (it is only a belief) that the views and opinions of “mankind” do matter. However, suppose the Summit should become (as they often do) merely an exercise in appeasing those who are responsible for the carnage and mayhem by urging the victim to concede to the demands of a genocidal sociopath. In that case, the participants should stay home.

In the meantime, Ukraine must – absolutely must – stay the course. Putin’s Russia is more than an invading force intent on grabbing some land to which it has no claim. It is more than simply an “empire builder” that preys – like any ordinary predator – on weaker neighbors. It is more than a mere bastard child of history that speaks of “peace” and “rights” while engaged in the elimination of both. All those have had their periods of fame and infamy and (thankfully) have disappeared into the dumpster of history.

Presumed Ukrainian Air Base Targeted by Russian Combined Missile and Drone Attack
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Presumed Ukrainian Air Base Targeted by Russian Combined Missile and Drone Attack

The primary target of the strike was Starokonstyantyniv in the Khmelnytsky region, which is widely thought to be home to a vast Ukrainian air base.

Putin’s Russia is intent on solving for all time their Ukrainian “question.” That means that they are offended by the very existence of a people and state on their border that insists on choosing its course and destiny without a “by your leave” from the Kremlin. They are offended by the existence of a nation they had always assumed to be “one of them,” only to discover that it is not and never was… a country they had severely abused and exploited for over three centuries. They are offended by Ukraine’s rejection of their deplorable “russky mir,” thereby depriving them of an enhanced staging area from which to dominate the Eurasian continent without challenge to their rule.

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The only concession Ukraine can offer without discrediting the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands in this war is to allow the Russians to leave Ukraine peacefully.

The tsars hoped to solve the “question” by repressing and deporting to Siberia those who even alluded to a separate and distinctly different nation from their own. Their language was banned, books were burned, cultural monuments razed, and their achievements and milestones were grafted onto Russia’s history or buried.

Then Stalin thought he could succeed where the tsars had failed by simply sequestering Ukrainians into a huge starving death camp for two years and destroying much of their demographic substance by murdering millions and resettling their empty homes and villages with Russians. 

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Now, Putin hopes to succeed where others failed by ensuring that future generations of Russians will no longer have to concern themselves with the Ukrainian “question.”

That is why Ukraine must stay the course. We don’t know enough about President Zelensky’s plans and expectations for the “Peace Summit,” which starts in a few days. However, he is to be credited for being the “first” to set a “peace” agenda based on the rule of (international) law, human rights, and the never-outdated (though frequently violated) principles of the UN Charter. 

What we do know is that a large plurality of the hundred or so nations represented at the Summit has mainly remained untroubled by the genocide these last 28 months… the horrific rape, looting, torture, and kidnapping, as well as daily destruction of towns and cities, pollution of Ukraine’s ecology, and wanton slaughter of its citizens. They are like residents of a community that simply stand by and make videos of a murderous assault but without coming to help.

We also know that even some of Ukraine’s strongest supporters have balked – for reasons of profit or convenience – at agreeing on measures necessary to shrink Putin’s ability to fund and grow his war machine. Can we expect more from such a summit except for a diplomatic claptrap? If nothing else, additional air defense systems to protect what remains of Ukraine’s much-reduced infrastructure would be a welcome outcome.

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Whatever the outcome may be, we may be sure of one thing. Any peace “resolution” or initiative can never be a substitute for Ukraine’s unambiguous position heretofore: no peace for Ukraine without full recovery of its territory and sovereignty.

Let the world’s diplomats meet and say their piece. Let the strap-hangers await every sliver of hopeful news of a “cease-fire.” But the only concession Ukraine can offer without discrediting the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands in this war is to allow the Russians to leave Ukraine peacefully.

In the words of Patrick Henry, who risked his life and fortune by siding against the British king during the American Revolution: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

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