It’s vital to avoid a false choice between peace and justice: that only helps the Kremlin. We need terms both sides might accept
We are setting up an entirely false choice over Ukraine that, if pursued, could unnecessarily undermine European unity. Last week a poll for the European Council on Foreign Relations showed two camps in European public opinion emerging: a larger peace camp (35%) that wants to cut and run now, and a smaller justice camp (25%) that wants to push ahead until victory. In fact, if you look at the detail, there are three groups, with the biggest single group (43%) choosing both peace and justice.
This divide between peace and justice is reflected in public polemic, too. At one extreme there is Henry Kissinger, arguing at Davos that Ukraine should concede territory now to secure a ceasefire and warning us to avoid humiliating Vladimir Putin. Not surprisingly, this provoked a sharp reaction from those who correctly point out that Putin shows no sign of being ready to negotiate seriously or respond to concessions. More likely, a pre-emptive cringe would not only fail to secure a lasting peace, but would also leave Putin in a position to return and grab more of Ukraine once he regroups his forces.
Jonathan Powell was Tony Blair’s chief negotiator on Northern Ireland while chief of staff to the prime minister, 1997-2007, and is the chief executive and founder of Inter Mediate, a charity devoted to helping end armed conflicts
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