In his letter "Territorial compromise is typically how wars end" in the Financial Times (FT) of Sept.12, 2022, Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft responds to my op-ed "Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine would be a moral defeat" published by the FT on 7 September 2022.
In his rebuttal, Lieven ascribes an anti-Ukrainian intention to me, and repeats popular misconceptions about Russia’s official annexations of five Ukrainian territories.
The op-ed in London's FT had lined out global implications of Western agreement to partially satisfying Russian demands towards Ukraine. Yet, Lieven treats my article as a policy recommendation to the Ukrainian government or/and people.
Anybody following Ukrainian official statements and opinion polls knows that the overwhelming majority of Ukraine’s elites and citizens have made up their minds about the war’s eventual end: full restoration of territorial integrity.
Neither Lieven, nor me, nor – I am afraid – the FT or KP had in the past, have at the moment, or will have in the future much influence on Ukrainian political attitudes shaped by material conditions rather than verbal interventions.
The question for Westerners to discuss among ourselves are our interests, calculations and aims in this conflict. What would the repercussions of a Western-approved violent Russian territorial expansion for international law and order be? While this was the topic of the op-ed, it was not of Lieven’s rebuttal.
He instead poses as a dovish defender of supposedly real long-term interests of Ukrainians. Most of them would be rather upset by Lieven’s uninvited advocacy. Moreover, Lieven repeats Moscow’s initial justification for its annexations when writing “Umland pays not the slightest attention to what the people of Crimea and the eastern Donbas themselves might want.”
Opinion polls immediately before the war’s start in late February 2014 did not find majorities for an inclusion into Russia – neither in the Donbas nor in Crimea. Does Lieven not know or purposefully hide these and other facts?
With its annexations and genocide in Ukraine, Russia is currently shaking the foundations of the world’s system of sovereign states. Nevertheless, many in the West believe that Moscow can be allowed to come out with a territorial net gain from the war. This would create a precedent of successful irredentism inspiring future Russian and non-Russian revanchists.
The name of Lieven’s Quincy Institute indicates that “statecraft” should be conducted in a “responsible” way. It, indeed, should.
Andreas Umland is an analyst at the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs / Utrikespolitiska Institutet Stockholm/Kyiv.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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