100 Days of the Ukraine war
David Rothkopf is a respected international relations expert who has also worked as a registered foreign agent in a consulting job for the United Arab Emirates.
He has been hawkish on US and NATO support for Ukraine in the current war. On the occasion of the 100-day anniversary of the start of the current Russian invasion, he provides his recommendations on How Biden Can Help Ukraine Win the Long War Daily Beast 06/03/2022. Including some common pitches we're hearing recently, some of them more coherent than others. I would include this one under the latter type:
[T]he U.S. must provide support like there is no tomorrow, more weapons than we think Ukraine needs, not less. The recent decision to provide longer range missiles and precision artillery is encouraging. (my emphasis)
I read this as a rhetorical way of cheering for Our Side. But the US "must provide ... more weapons than we think Ukraine needs"? What does that even mean? Maybe it's a clunky way of saying that Ukraine is asking for more, more, more and he wants to amplify that message. He continues:
More can and must be done. Further, we must make it very clear that in regions Russia claims, they will face a well-armed, well-financed insurgency that will never give up, that today’s territorial gains are only temporary and come at an unsustainable cost. (my emphasis)
That "never give up" is an oblique reference to what may turn out to be a big difference between what the US and Ukrainian goals for the war may be. Ukraine is currently saying, give us more, more, more. It's easy to envision a moment where the US is pushing the Ukrainians to fight more, more, more even if the elected Ukrainian government is ready to accept a settlement that it finds acceptable but the US does not.
This point also needs to be seen in that light:
The U.S. policy is that the final disposition of the war is up to Ukraine. We must be unwavering in this view and aggressive in our desire to achieve the goal articulated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the “strategic defeat” of Russia. (my emphasis)
It seems inconsistent to say that "the final disposition of the war is up to Ukraine" but that the US has as its goal a "'strategic defeat' of Russia - which is potentially is a far more expansive goal. And if the US decides that a protracted guerrilla war like the Soviet engagement in Afghanistan best serves that stated goal, the Ukrainians may not be entirely in accord with that approach.
There was an international agreement that set up the Minsk framework after Russia's seizure of Ukrainian territory in 2014 that was designed to negotiate a longer-term agreement on the Donbas areas controlled by Russia. There doesn't seem to have been too much enthusiasm for those negotiations on either the Russian or Ukrainian side. Although the talks in the Minsk framework did result in two prisoner exchanges and a 2020 ceasefire that endured for a while. (Andrian Prokip provided some background on the Minsk process last December in Implementing the Minsk Agreements Would Pose a Russian Trojan Horse for Ukraine, but There Is a Third Way Wilson Center Focus Ukraine Blog 12/07/2021)
If their comes a point where both the Ukrainian and Russian sides both conclude that an immediate continuation of war is not in their best interest, it's certainly conceivable that some international framework could be set up for a ceasefire with negotiations leading to withdrawal of Russian troops with the establishment of regional autonomy within Ukraine for the areas currently recognized by Russia as breakaway republics. (The arrangement that Italy established for the South Tirol region is considered a successful model for regional autonomy consistent with national sovereignty. It's possible.)
Russia has formally annexed Crimea, and that was not included in the Minsk Framework. It's hard to see how the Ukraine or the international community more generally can recognize Russian annexation as legitimate. But even there, an agreement is certainly conceivable that an arrangement could be concluded that Crimea remains part of Ukraine but the Russian Black Sea Fleet gets some kind of effectively permanent access to Crimean ports.
Meanwhile, the Ukraine war will continue to generate risks for the world - nuclear war being the most serious one - as well as potentially staggering food shortages with both Russian and Ukrainian grain exports restricted by the war. As Aljazeera reports (100 days in, UN says Russia-Ukraine war ‘will have no winner’ 06/03/2022):
The UN crisis coordinator for Ukraine has also sounded the alarm on the global effect of the war in a country that caters to about 15 to 20 percent of the world’s food needs.
Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked, preventing the export of some 20 million tonnes of grain. UN officials have called on Russia to reopen the ports to avoid a global food crisis and the international community has raised the possibility of a relaxation of sanctions against Moscow in return for unblocking the ports.
And the notion of the US and Europe forming any kind of power-balancing arrangement with Russia against China is looking like a really distant possibility at the moment.
The UN as of June 3 is estimating 4,7 million Ukrainian refugees in Europe, including 1 million or so in Russia. (Ukraine situation: Flash Update #15) The UN refugee agency tracks the number of refugees. But the figures they provide are a bit challenging to interpret, particularly how many of them are in which country at a given time, because Ukrainian refugees have the legal designation in the EU as "displaced persons" which allows them to travel within the EU at will. The UN currently estimates that 7 million people have left Ukraine since February 24 with 2 million crossing the border back into Ukraine. But this does not mean that it has suddenly become safe or feasible for the 4.7 million still outside in other European countries to return. And it does not mean that the refugee flows out of Ukraine have ended. How many more come and how fast depends on the course of the war.
Numerous news outlets have been using the "100 days" hook, June 4 being the 100th day:
Michael Safi and Courtney Yusuf, Devastation and defiance in Ukraine: 100 days of a war that is reshaping Europe Guardian 06/03/2022
Nathan Hodge, After 100 days of war, Putin is counting on the world's indifference CNN 06/03/2022
Russia may be in Ukraine to stay after 100 days of war Associated Press 06/03/2022
Natalia Liubchenkova, 100 days of war in Ukraine: The most defining moments in pictures Euronews 06/03/2022