When Does the West Pull the Plug on the Ukraine War?
Author: Greg Valliere
June 17, 2022
WE BELIEVE EVERY WESTERN LEADER — from Joe Biden to Emmanuel Macron — wants to re-double diplomatic overtures this summer that might bring the war to an end.
BUT UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY IS ADAMANT that any deal must restore pre-war borders, which is a non-starter for Russia. Zelensky thinks Ukraine can win the war, but as we have asserted since February, neither Ukraine nor Russia can win this war.
AFTER RUSSIAN ADVANCES IN THE ruined Donbas region this spring, gridlock is likely as Western arms pour into the battlefield and Russia desperately searches for new recruits for its depleted military.
WESTERN LEADERS WANT TO STAY IN ZELENSKY’S GOOD GRACES, so they have invited Ukraine into the European Union. The quid pro quo would be Zelensky’s eventual surrender of eastern Ukraine and the end of some sanctions on Moscow (which have not devastated Russia, as promised by proponents).
IN THE ABSENCE OF A CONCLUSIVE MILITARY VICTORY by either side, a negotiation is inevitable; the only question is when. That equation now has a new element — the economic crisis in the West and the politicians’ fear that inflation and recession could lead some weak governments to teeter.
NOWHERE IS THE POLITICAL UNREST more apparent than in the U.S., where surging gasoline prices, the battered stock market and higher interest rates on everything will combine to crush the Democrats in November. Macron and other European leaders also face growing unrest; they’re watching the polls closely for signs that voters are tired of the war.
SO WESTERN LEADERS WILL RATCHET UP THE PRESSURE on Zelensky to cut a deal. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, will be content to wait out the West until signs of cracks become more obvious.
AN ONGOING STALEMATE will keep prices high for oil, natural gas, grain, fertilizer, etc. Perhaps these prices will level off because of shrinking demand, but tight supplies appear likely for months to come.
IF YOUR FLAT IN BERLIN IS COLD this winter, or if the cost of gasoline stays above $6 per gallon in California, the impulse to blame someone will increase. Zelensky surely knows that he needs a counter-offensive this summer — or a deal. Without either, sentiment in the West may begin to turn against him.
BOTTOM LINE: The ingredients of the global economic crisis largely originate in Ukraine, yet there’s little likelihood of a quick resolution of the war. At some point, many Western leaders will say enough is enough, but that could be months away. A cold and unstable winter will become more likely unless there’s a diplomatic solution soon.
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