Can China end Russia’s war with Ukraine?
Well entrenched Russian forces cannot be driven out of Crimea without some Western-backed Ukrainian offensive that could provoke Russia’s use of nuclear weapons. While the US has publicly supported Ukraine’s right to return Crimea, the Biden administration has slyly refuses to supply the Ukrainian army the long-range missiles such effort would require, and Zelensky asked privately remain open to negotiation.
In the administration, the military leadership showed the greatest caution. I recently met with General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he said that neither Russia nor Ukraine will achieve all of their “political goals through military action.” Instead, he insists that the war is likely to end when “somewhere, somehow, someone figures out how to sit at the negotiating table.” When asked if the US should take any peace plan seriously, regardless Whether she’s from Italy, Turkey or even China, Millie confirmed she should.
The outcome of the negotiations would be morally unsatisfactory compared to the decisive defeat and complete withdrawal of Russia from the occupied territories of Ukraine. But such an option remains unlikely, given the harsh realities of Russia’s degraded but still significant military capabilities, continued combat resolve, and nuclear capability. The decision on whether to negotiate is ultimately up to the leaders of Ukraine and Russia, not the US or China. But we should not automatically reject the peace initiatives of perhaps the only country that has both close diplomatic relations and significant economic leverage to Russia. If Putin’s battlefield failures continue to escalate, pressure from China could bring him to the negotiating table.