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Negotiations in the context of weakening Russia threaten a new escalation of the war

Photo: Vladimir Putin and heads of pseudo-republics
Source: Reuters

Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine leads to the gradual degradation of the aggressor state. After the failure of the initial plan to quickly capture Ukraine, the Russian army has suffered significant losses in modern Russian equipment and the most experienced and motivated units. Under the influence of these military defeats, position of Kremlin in Russian society was damaged. Dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs can already be heard even on propaganda channels, and the forces of extremists in the person of the militant Igor Girkin are openly criticizing the military and political leadership of Russia. Economic sanctions have also dealt a powerful blow to the Russian Federation: the Kremlin is running out of money, Russia is losing ground in the energy market, import substitution is not working, while businesses and wealthy residents are leaving the country.

Existing problems also affect the perception of the Russian Federation in the international arena. As early as the beginning of 2022, the Russian Federation was perceived as one of the three powers, along with the United States and the People's Republic of China, around which the global geopolitical confrontation will unfold. Now the situation has changed for Moscow and other regional powers understand this. The summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand was indicative.

Before the SCO summit, Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Kazakhstan, where he declared that China will support the independence and territorial integrity of Kazakhstan. "No matter how the international situation changes, we will continue to resolutely support Kazakhstan in the defense of its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, we will firmly support your reforms to ensure stability and development, and we will categorically oppose the interference of any forces in the internal affairs of your country." - Xi Jinping said. The only state that could threaten the territorial integrity of Kazakhstan at the current stage is the Russian Federation. In their unofficial statements, high-ranking officials of Russia have repeatedly questioned the territorial integrity of their southern neighbor and expressed threats against Kazakhstan. Therefore, Xi Jinping's statement is obviously aimed at the leadership of Russia and shows that China will dominate Central Asia from now on.

In addition to China, Turkey is also strengthening its position in the region. Istanbul is considered by the countries of the region as a counterweight to the growing influence of Beijing. Central Asian countries are culturally connected to Turkey and see the state as a promising partner in many fields, in particular, military. Recep Erdogan looked confident at the summit, a photo spread on the Internet where the Turkish president is in the center of attention during an informal conversation. At the same time, Vladimir Putin was given a modest place on the sideline. Putin's press conferences with his colleagues were also a telling moment. The Russian president had to wait for the leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, India and Iran.

However, the main evidence of the weakening of the Russian Federation's position was the Russian leader's conversations with representatives of China and India. Vladimir Putin, addressing Xi Jinping, as if apologizing for the defeats in Ukraine and the war he started, said: “We understand your questions and concerns about this. During our meeting today, we will of course clarify our position...". And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin that today's era is not an era of war." "I know your position regarding the conflict in Ukraine, the concern you constantly express," Putin replied. "We will do everything to stop it as soon as possible."

Despite this diplomatic rhetoric, China and India did not support Ukraine against the background of Russian aggression. The two states continue to import goods from the aggressor country and took part in joint military exercises with Russia in September. However, the continuation of the armed conflict affecting the whole world does not correspond to the strategic interests of the two states. Therefore, Xi Jinping and Modi chose such rhetoric at the summit, effectively distancing themselves from Russia. It is possible that the PRC and India urged the Russian president to end the war before the G20 summit in Indonesia.

Although Russia has lost ground on the international stage, Vladimir Putin will not give up on his plans to take over Ukraine. Currently, the goal of the Russians may be to conclude a truce on favorable terms for Russia before the summit in Indonesia. We are already observing powerful information campaigns directed against Ukraine, the purpose of which is to force Ukraine to negotiate. Further the degree will only increase.

For this, Vladimir Putin is raising the stakes: along with his willingness to negotiate, he announced the illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine, started mobilization and threatening to launch a nuclear strike. This rhetoric has already been picked up by pro-Russian propagandists in the USA and Europe, as well as a fairly large number of journalists and even scientists. The main idea of calls for peace is the exchange of Ukrainian territory, together with the Ukrainians living there, for a conditional "peace". Such a peace would not guarantee security for Ukraine, would not ensure the rights that states have in accordance with the UN Charter. The only consequence of such an agreement would be a period for the restoration of capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces in order to resume the offensive. After an armistice without security guarantees, Ukraine would have no investment in the economy, and the population would be demoralized. In Europe, economies would start to gradually recover and the population would react negatively to the news of any resumption of hostilities. The level of support for Ukraine in the international arena would be much lower than it is now, which would give Putin an advantage. During this time, the Kremlin regime would have been able to regain domestic political influence and, driven by the desire for revenge, launch a repeated full-scale aggression, taking into account all previous mistakes.

Currently, there is a danger that Ukraine's partners, in particular US President Joe Biden, also believe in the possibility of ending the current war at the current stage through negotiations. If the US presses Zelensky instead of helping, it will be a catastrophic mistake for the entire international security system.

The fear of nuclear weapons has always been one of the main factors influencing international relations after 1945. However, the leaders of Western countries understood that it is impossible to show weakness. Instead of concessions to the USSR, the Reagan administration went for escalation and as a result the United States of America have won. The Russian Federation is a weaker actor than the USSR. Ukraine is already changing the course of hostilities. And therefore, when making decisions, the American administration should remember the decisions of the past, because the scenario of victory was already written by the predecessors. Concessions to the Kremlin dictator increase risks, because Russia perceives any concessions as weakness. Allowing Russia to threaten nuclear weapons is a blow to the non-proliferation regime. If Moscow gets what it wants the result of the threats to use WMD will be a signal to all other countries that it is impossible for non-nuclear states to defend their territorial integrity and sovereignty without possessing nuclear weapons. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure a faster victory for Ukraine - by increasing pressure on Russia, introducing new sanctions and providing weapons to Ukraine.

That is true, this war should end diplomatically - by signing an agreement. This agreement must be signed after the full restoration of the territory of Ukraine within the borders as of 1991, which can only be done by force, in a language that Russia understands. And even in this case, in case of victory, according to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny, based on what he knows about the Russians, it will only be an opportunity to take a breath and prepare for the next war.

1. Санкції стали катастрофою для російської економіки - дослідження Єльського університету, 30.07.2022,
2. Підсумки саміту ШОС: приниження путіна і хрест на перспективах рф, 19.09.2022,
3. Inside the Ukrainian Counterstrike That Turned the Tide of the War, 26.09.2022,