Sunday, April 9, 2023

Kyiv Could Accept a ‘Land for Peace’ Deal Only if Ukraine Gets NATO Membership and the Alliance Stations Troops There, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 6 – Ukraine is engaged in an existential struggle for its survival, Vladimir Pastukhov says; and it can accept a “land for peace” outcome if and only if NATO immediately admits it to full membership in the Western alliance and stations NATO forces on the remaining territory of Ukraine. Otherwise, such a deal is unthinkable for Kyiv.

            Despite all the talk in some capitals about this possibility and the Finlandization it would lead to, the London-based Russian analyst says, there is no such possibility because the current war is about the survival of Ukraine and because there is no path to anything like Finlandization (

            Moscow’s goal in this war has never been about seizing territory as such but rather about destroying Ukrainian state and nationhood, Pastukhov continues. Thus, giving Moscow territory now will not prevent Russia from restarting the war to destroy Ukraine as soon as it is in a position to do so.

            Moreover, any decision in Kyiv to yield land to Russia in the hopes of gaining peace would deeply split Ukrainian society; and that in turn would be sufficient for Russia to exploit to achieve its primary goal of destroying Ukraine and Ukrainians as such. Ukraine will thus continue to fight “because it has no other way of preserving itself.”

            The only possible way out of this paradoxical situation, Pastukhov argues, is for Kyiv to give up territory to Russia “in exchange for the immediate membership of Ukraine in NATO and the dislocation of NATO forces on the territory of the remaining part of Ukraine. In my view,” he says, “this is the only formula which will work.”

            That is because, he continues, “in this situation, Ukraine would receive a 100 percent guarantee that there would not be any continuation of the war because any attempt to do that would mean for Russia entrance into a direct conflict with NATO and the beginning of World War II, which it does not want” either.

            A territorially diminished Ukraine that was nonetheless a member of NATO would thus be in a position similar to that of South Korea and the border between Ukraine and Russia would be something like the border between North and South Korea “with a neutral area and direct guarantees by the US and the West.”

            What this also means, although few are willing to face up to it yet, is that if the West refuses to consider extending NATO membership to Ukraine in the near future, the war there will go on with unpredictable consequences for all concerned. 

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