devastated bus stop in town after bomb explosion

The Russia/Ukraine war. What would have been the best outcome for the West?

by Robert Henderson

At the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine  I suggested in  various comment columns of the  Western media  that the best course for Ukraine was to see if  their surrender on reasonable terms  was possible.    I did this  because was clear  the invasion  would result on in massive loss of life and injury  and catastrophic  damage to the infrastructure of  Ukraine.

The  armchair generals came  out in force to propose this and that battle plan and celebrating  any setback  for Russia  whilst ignoring any progress made by Russia. Shamefully,  this attitude  was reflected  in  Western media which  has  shamefully acted as a cheer leader for Ukraine. This was  deeply irresponsible because what is needed at such a time and place is honest and accurate reporting.

The supply of considerable weaponry and other military supplies by Western states to Ukraine  had  the effect of pouring oil onto a  fire  and  consequentially of  prolonging the  war and of  creating a very dangerous situation  whereby Putin would have been justified in naming the supplying nations as participants in the war. Putin has not done so  but he might just  do it  if the s supply of military material and  intelligence aid continues.

Let us suppose that the war would  have  ended quickly  if Western countries  had not supplied weaponry and other military assistance such as surveillance data. Plausibly the results would have been of a rapid defeat of Ukraine (there might  have been  some continuing some guerrilla   warfare  but nothing of great consequence).

Had the war been  quickly over the  benefits for the West  would have been these:

Global food supplies would not  have been  seriously disrupted.

Large scale Ukrainian  refugee movements into the West would not have occurred.

Western governments would not have been compromised by their supply  of military equipment and  intelligence to Ukraine.

Western taxpayers would not have had to fund the military supplies supplied so cavalierly by Western governments to Ukraine.

The politically correct and the sentimental  would of course have made a great play about how homo sapiens are one big indistinguishable  family but  it is wildly probable that a Russian conquered  Ukraine would have been attacked by the West.

The sad reality is that most people in the world live under some form of undemocratic and illiberal government. Yet we do not expect that the West should be invading or  engaging in  potent military  response in places  such as Nigeria  and Myanmar . That is because the repercussions are too great. No country is going to be invading China even  if I suspect she invades Taiwan.


  1. Totally agree. We are just prolonging the agony. Worse, if we back Putin into a corner, he may feel compelled to see a nuclear solution as the only option to save his country from anihilation by the west. We (Britain, the US and the EU) seem Hell-bent on starting WWIII.

  2. I hesitate to disagree with Robert, who knows far more than I do about geopolitics. But it seems to me that, to judge the reactions on all sides, it is necessary to understand why Putin started the war. What were his intentions? Could they have been:

    (1) Dividing Ukraine in two, so providing a new buffer zone of a Russia favouring (and Russian speaking) country in between Russia and Ukraine? Like the Donetsk and Luhansk rebel areas, but a single, much larger country, which Putin could control indirectly, as he already does Belarus?

    (2) Conquering Ukraine, as it is now, as a whole?

    If I try to look at things from a Russian point of view, then (1) makes a lot of sense. That’s what I’d have done in his position. The military strategy also seems to suggest that was the objective. A column from Belarus, to take Kyiv and then push southwards. A column from Crimea, dividing into a movement to the desired western boundary (Kherson), a movement to secure the Azov coast (Mariupol), and a movement up the Dnieper to Zaporizhia and towards Dnepropetrovsk. And columns directly from Russia to take over the territory they are after.

    Now look at it from a Ukrainian point of view. Ukraine is a state. In theory at least, states are indivisible. If Ukraine were to surrender, it would surrender all its territory. All the way to the Polish border, and the Moldovan, and the Lithuanian. That would put Moldova and – more to the point – Lithuania at risk of becoming the next targets. Don’t forget that there is a Russian exclave, Kaliningrad, beyond Lithuania.

    For Zelinskiy to surrender, or Ukraine to lose the war, would open the way to renewed Russian aggressions. That is why Ukrainians must continue to fight. And why Western powers, however culpable they have been in provoking Russia, must provide them with what they need to fight. The ultimate objective, I think, has to be allowing Putin outcome (1) if he is prepared to accept it, but stopping outcome (2) from happening. At almost any cost – certainly to Ukrainians.

    That’s my threepennyworth.

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