Accepting the impossibility of Russia abandoning its mutually beneficial cooperation with China and acknowledging that lifting the sanctions likely won’t happen either, the rest of his proposals could form the parameters of a potential Russian-American deal for ending their proxy war in Ukraine.
The NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine has been trending towards a stalemate since the beginning of the year after Moscow’s growing edge in the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” ensured that it won’t be defeated. NATO is unlikely to be defeated either, however, since it’ll probably intervene directly – whether as a whole or via a Polish–led mission that draws in the bloc via Article 5 – to freeze the Line of Contact in the event that Russia achieves a breakthrough and threatens to sweep through Ukraine.
The counteroffensive’s spectacular failure and the subsequently vicious blame game between the US and Ukraine strongly suggest that talks with Russia will resume by year’s end for freezing the conflict. Ahead of that happening, these wartime allies are frenziedly trying to convince their respective people that the other is responsible for this debacle simultaneously with formulating an attractive post-conflict vision of the future. The first is served by their vicious blame game while the second will now be discussed.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who’s now polling third after winning last week’s debate and had earlier attracted enormous media attention for his outspokenness on sensitive issues, just published his “Viable Realism & Revival Doctrine” in an article for The American Conservative. Of relevance to this piece is his plan for ending the NATO-Russian proxy war. Liberal–globalist policymakers and their media allies responded with fury, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Ramaswamy describes the conflict as a “no-win war” that’s needlessly depleted Western stockpiles to China’s benefit. With a view towards more effectively containing the People’s Republic in the Asia-Pacific, he therefore suggests extricating the US from its proxy war with Russia as soon as possible. To that end, he proposes recognizing the new ground realities in Eastern Europe, ending NATO expansion, refusing to admit Ukraine to the bloc, lifting sanctions, and having Europe shoulder the burden for its own security.
The explicit goal is to “get Putin to dump Xi”, and that’s why he says that the quid pro quo is “Russia exiting its military alliance with China.” Ramaswamy is convinced that his plan will “elevate Russia as a strategic check on China’s designs in East Asia” if it’s implemented into practice, but the problem is that no such “military alliance” exists between those two. Moreover, it’s unrealistic to imagine that the US will “get Putin to dump Xi” since they’re good friends and their countries are strategic partners.
Having said clarified that, this plan does have its merits. From the Russian side, it ensures that country’s objective national security interests and gives it the chance to rely on the EU for preemptively averting potentially disproportionate economic dependence on China upon the lifting of sanctions. On the home front, Ramaswamy’s plan appeals to the pragmatic policymaking faction whose influence is on the rise as proven by the success over the summer of their policy towards India that was detailed here.
The timing couldn’t have been better. The US is looking for a “face-saving” way to resume peace talks like was previously explained, and the rising influence of pragmatic policymakers could lead to them overruling the liberal-globalists’ objections to this, though their rivals could still try to sabotage this. The enormous media attention that Ramaswamy has already generated, not to mention what he’s now receiving as a result of his proposal, could reshape the national discourse on the proxy war’s endgame.
Americans are becoming fatigued with this conflict but no one had yet articulated an attractive post-conflict vision of the future until now. Irrespective of Ramaswamy’s political future, his plan serves to spark a wider conversation at all levels about the pragmatism of compromising with Russia in order to free the US up for more effectively containing China in the Asia-Pacific. This can in turn facilitate the resumption of talks with Russia, especially if it emboldens pragmatic US policymakers.
The vicious blame game between the US and Ukraine over the counteroffensive’s failure leads to the inevitable one over who’s responsible for losing this proxy war, with all of this preceding America’s formulation of an attractive post-conflict vision of the future for its people and policymakers alike. The first dynamic is continually intensifying and making more headlines by the day, while the second is also presently unfolding but mostly in silence, and it’s this dynamic that Ramaswamy’s plan contributes to.
Accepting the impossibility of Russia abandoning its mutually beneficial cooperation with China and acknowledging that lifting the sanctions likely won’t happen either, the rest of his proposals could form the parameters of a potential Russian-American deal for ending their proxy war in Ukraine. That former Soviet Republic wouldn’t join NATO, nor would that bloc expand any further, and the West would de facto recognize the new ground realities in Eastern Europe while the EU bears the burden for its security.
Russia would obviously have to agree to some regional compromises too in that scenario, such as Ukraine’s privileged post-conflict relationship with NATO and the hard security guarantees that the Anglo-American Axis will likely provide, but these could be acceptable if its other interests are met. If there’s any movement in this direction, then it shouldn’t be maliciously spun as Russia conspiring to facilitating the US’ containment of China, but seen for what it truly is: Russia putting its interests first.