It Seems That No One Wants to End the Ukraine War … Except for Trump

Next month, on June 15 and 16, a high-level peace conference will be held in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on achieving peace in Ukraine. 70 to 90 countries reportedly will be represented. Some heads of state will attend, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

However, there will be some notable absences—Russia and China. President Biden does not plan to attend and will send junior officials to the conference.

These absences and the conference’s agenda indicate not that just this peace conference will be a farce, but that there is no serious interest by the international community in finding a way to end the war in Ukraine.

Obviously, it is impossible to hold a peace conference to end a conflict unless all parties are represented. However, Zelenskyy refuses to agree to Russia’s participation. China is refusing to attend unless Russia attends.

According to press reports, China and Brazil may attempt to hold a rival peace conference and invite Ukraine and Russia. However, because of President Xi’s close ties to President Putin and increased Chinese support for Russia in the war, it is unlikely that Ukraine, the U.S., and European states would attend a Ukraine peace conference convened by China.

Not only was Russia not invited to the peace conference in Switzerland, but it will focus on Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan, which Russia has rejected and is widely considered dead. This unrealistic plan, which Zelenskyy introduced at a G-20 summit in November 2022, calls for restoring all of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.

Making this peace conference even more absurd, President Biden has declined to attend, even though he will be in neighboring Italy on June 15 for a G-7 conference that will conclude hours before the peace conference begins. Instead of attending the peace conference, Biden has decided to fly to California for a fundraiser in Hollywood.

Russia has made major gains in the war this year, seizing significant territory in northern Ukraine and northeast of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. Russia has also made minor advances in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Russia has significantly improved its ability to evade Ukraine’s air defenses, which has increased the deadly effectiveness of its missile and drone attacks.

Russia is also taking advantage of Ukraine’s growing troop shortage and arms shortage while it waits for new U.S. arms to arrive. Meanwhile, Russia has significantly stepped up its weapons production and is producing nearly three times more artillery munitions than the U.S. and Europe. This may give Russian forces a significant advantage in a possible offensive this summer.

Due to these factors, most experts believe Ukraine has no chance of recovering its territory from Russia and assess that this conflict has become a long-term war of attrition that Ukraine will eventually lose.

This has led to calls from the right and the left to end the war.

This includes former President Donald Trump, who said at a CNN town hall in 2023, “I want everybody to stop dying. They’re dying. Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying.”

In addition, former Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said on MSNBC in November 2023 that the war is unwinnable and called for Ukraine to change its strategy to protect and save the 80 percent of territory it still controls and pursue a cease-fire with Russia.

Given the perilous state of the war for Ukraine, if next month’s Ukraine peace conference was intended to be a credible effort to end the war, it would include negotiations with Ukrainian and Russian representatives on how to implement a cease-fire as soon as possible as well as a diplomatic process for a peace agreement or armistice.

This will not happen because Zelenskyy refuses to agree to negotiations with Russia and will not consider a cease-fire or peace agreement before Ukraine regains all of its territory seized by Russia, including Crimea. Although the UK and France have reportedly offered Zelenskyy mild criticism of this position, most European states agree with him. The Biden Administration strongly supports Zelenskyy’s position and continues to say that the U.S. will provide arms to Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia.

President Biden also continues to frame the war in Ukraine as a threat to democracy and claims Putin will invade NATO members if Russia conquers Ukraine. Biden said in his State of the Union speech last March, “Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself.” Biden officials still refer to congressional opponents of military aid to Ukraine as anti-democracy and pro-Putin.

In light of Biden’s comments and his repeated pledges to stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, it was odd to learn that he plans to skip the Switzerland peace conference that is being held at Zelenskyy’s request.

Obviously, the wild card in getting a cease-fire in the Ukraine War or a peace process is Putin, who may not negotiate in good faith or comply with an agreement to end or freeze this conflict. But the main obstacle right now to ending the conflict is that there is no serious interest by anyone in the international community in finding a way to do so. There is no credible world leader pressing Russia and Ukraine to agree to a cease-fire or participate in peace talks.

That may change if Donald Trump returns to the presidency next January. He would be the only world leader determined to end the Ukraine War and has said he will use his influence as president to do so within 24 hours. And even if this proves to be a tougher task that takes longer, Trump’s principled position would create hope that a way can be found to peacefully end this conflict.

Trump’s position on ending the Ukraine War is also considerably better than Biden’s, who plans to blow off a Ukraine peace conference so he can hang out with Hollywood movie stars to raise money for his presidential campaign.

Fred Fleitz is vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security and editor of “An America First Approach to U.S. National Security,” available from Amazon.com. He previously served as National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst, and a House Intelligence Committee staff member.

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Photo: OSAKA, JAPAN - JUNE,28 (RUSSIA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, in Osaka, Japan, June,28,2019. Vladimir Putin has arrived to Japan to partcipate the G20 Osaka Summit and to meet U.S.President Donald Trump. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. An attempt on Zelensky’s life has already occurred. That was publicized with suspicions resting on expat/refugee Ukrainians disgusted with his leadership of jailing priests and nuns and massive corruption and misuse of funds. Since the obstacle to peace in the region appears to be Zelensky himself, how long before his disappearance conveniently signals peace?

  2. Putin has told us for decades that Ukraine into NATO is the red line and we still pushed. All that needs to happen is for the US to say Ukraine will remain neutral and everything goes away. It is simply what Trump will do. The problem is with our Deep State Blob who is making money on Ukrainian and Russian death.

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