In the war's second year, it is clear Russia had options other than ruinous invasion and occupation.
I like how you say that we need not go along with the binary 'us versus them' narrative, which is what sucks us into these conflicts in the first place. The loss of life and destruction of land and soil is horrific, and it is a tragedy that the option of war was chosen by Putin, just like it is a tragedy that the West has since chosen to let it go on for as long as possible. There are indeed always many other options available, besides war, but they are often not considered or pursued. Considering the scale of tje global challenges that we need to address together, and that we only can solve through cooperation, as you mentioned, choosing war becomes even more of a tragedy than it already is.
Well said, Matt. I especially like how you demolish the "no other option" argument used by Putin apologists by noting how it can be used to defend the actions of Bush, Obama, the Saudis, et al.
There are always options other than war, especially a largely stalemated and potentially apocalyptic war as this one clearly is. The danger is that too many powerful interests still think they can control this war and turn a profit at the same time.
Unfortunately, your analysis lacks all historical context. When you conflate Russia's actions in Ukraine with the US invasions of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc., you are comparing apples to oranges. The US would have to invade Mexico or Canada, countries on its immediate borders, for there to be any valid comparison. And that is why, if Mexico were to join a military alliance with China or Russia and allow offensive missiles to be based on its territory, you can be damn sure the US would not just sit back and say, "Well., Mexico is a sovereign country and they can join whatever military alliance they want." That is the first point. Second, a little history would go a long way to explaining Russia's fears. Just to name the most obvious--Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the US/European invasion of Russia in 1918 to try and kill the revolution, and Hitler's invasion of the USSR in WW II. Do you know how many millions of Russians died and suffered in all of these invasions by hostile powers? How many times has the US been invaded in a similar fashion? Try ZERO! Third, Putin did everything possible through sincere, forthright negotiations via the Minsk II process to find a peaceful solution whereby the Donbas would remain part of Ukraine in a federated state that recognized local autonomy for the region. That was his goal, and he was fully committed to the peaceful process. He was trying to avoid a military conflict. In contrast, we now know that France, Germany and Ukraine were playing games all along, totally duplicitous every step of the way, and had no intention of ever finding a peaceful solution. Instead,. they dragged out the negotiations in order to buy time to prepare for the military takeover of the Donbas and turning Ukraine into a de facto member of NATO. This has been fully admitted by Hollande, Merkel, and Poroshenko. Finally, Russia and Ukraine had agreed to the basic outlines of a peaceful settlement and the neutrality of Ukraine back in March 2022 with the help of Turkey, only to have the deal scuppered by the US and UK, both determined to keep the war going with the aim of regime change and the break-up of Russia. These are the facts. There is no question what has been transpired as a result of this war is tragic for all the reasons you mention, but without an accurate historical and factual account, your analysis winds up just echoing the position of the neocon cabal driving this proxy war and threatening the world with nuclear annihilation.
"diplomatic efforts rather than war, particularly recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as sovereign entities" But this is what in fact was done at the meeting you reference, though indeed it should have been done 8 years earlier. And this is what in fact foreclosed all non-military options. As the Ukrainian regime insists, the war began *in 2014* not 2022, when the far-right coup succeeded and the population of novo-russia rebelled against open national-chauvinist suppression of their existence as a minority in a bilingual state (imagine the reaction of the Quebecois should Ottawa decree the suppression of French as a national language!) and the massacres by the Banderistas in Odessa, Mariopol, et. al. Once that recognition had been granted, and faced with such greatly intensified bombardment of the civilian population in Donetsk, the Putin regime had indeed "no choice" but to act in response to the LPR-DPR appeal for protection. It did so clumsily, not very effectively, and with considerable brutality . But it did try to fulfill its "Responsibility To Protect" (which in NATO's mouth is never more than a hypocritical pretext.)
Matthew, you missed out the fourth, fifth and sixth motivations for Putin to choose war over continued fake peace. The 46 Ukrainian located bio weapon labs, two major ones funded by DOD, and knowledge of some surreptitious test releases in southern Russia states, was alone justification for war. Just imagine 46 BW labs in Mexico and sickness known in the southern border states of the US? The second was the knowledge that Zelenski was about to attack the Russian Black Sea fleet (within 4 days) in an attempt to remove their presence. The last was the ongoing pogram-like persecutions of Russian speaking peoples, including Jews, living in the Donbas by the same Azov Nazi's whose forefathers had killed many southern state Russians in WW2, as part of their Vicci like SS collaboration with Berlin. Would you standby peacefully and allow that evil to happen again? No!
It may even be Russia had alternative options to invasion, though I don't think so, and definitely is not "clear", but the point is that it is completely irrelevant to the current situation. Discussing it now is an useless academic exercise, I am afraid
A long article which, apart from its certainly sympathetic stance, reflects nothing but a naïve pacifist flight from reality.
Well thought out, ... Even though Russia was clearly provoked by the US-Nato buildup of offensive forces in place to launch a large new assault on the eastern donbas indep republics, and even though the US-Nato refused to even discuss Putin's peace-proposal (which did not include any annexation of the eastern donbas regions) and they basically gave Putin the f-finger and said "It's Our Way or no way"; I agree that Putin nonetheless had better options... (But 'better' now in retrospect) -- because the initial "invasion" was primarly intended to force some dialogue and negotiation , (though if the far-right Kiev gov had surrendered then I'm sure Putin would not have minded) .
But/So, what now? Here is a peace proposal ..