Reward Putin for his invasion | The week


Vladimir Putin is a lucky man. One hundred days after the start of his genocidal assault on Ukraine, many Western figures worry not that he will win his war, but that he will lose. It’s a pretty diverse club. French President Emmanuel Macron, who fancies himself a Putin whisperer, warned again last week that “we must not humiliate Russia”. Instead, we must reward Putin’s ruthless efforts to wipe a peaceful, democratic neighbor off the map with a nice chunk of it as a consolation prize: Donbass and southern Ukraine along the Black Sea. Henry Kissinger, the former realpolitik guru, joined Macron in demanding concessions from Ukraine. Thus has The New York Times editorial board, which recently advised Ukraine to have to make “painful territorial decisions” in exchange for peace. On the isolationist right, the America Firsters, from Senator Rand Paul to Tucker Carlson to Donald Trump, have denounced US military aid to Kyiv as a waste of money for a fight that is not ours.

In a ruthless world, realpolitik is sometimes unavoidable. In this case, it requires a bullish acceptance of the unprovoked slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians, the ruthless leveling of dozens of cities, and the more than 1,000 credible reports of war crimes. After these atrocities, should we worry that the butcher manages to save face? It is indeed unrealistic to believe any concessions will put an end to Putin’s messianic ambitions to absorb Ukraine into ‘holy Russia’. A deeply cynical liar trained by the KGB, he will gladly violate any treaty that naïve “realists” force Ukraine to sign. If there is a brief peace, Putin will use it to rebuild his battered army and re-invade until Kyiv succumbs. He is counting on nuclear blackmail, high gas prices and food shortages to erode the West’s resolve to support Ukraine and democracy against predatory autocracy. Proving Putin wrong is extremely important, even if he finds it humiliating.

This is the letter from the editor in the current problem of The week magazine.


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