To End the War, Ukraine Needs Justice, Not Peace

To End the War, Ukraine Needs Justice, Not Peace

The proper goal of a just war is a better state of peace, which requires at a minimum the vindication of the rights of the aggressed party.

Fourth, the United States and NATO should address Russia’s security concerns, while not recognizing Russia’s illegitimate claims to Ukrainian territory.

Fifth, the United States and NATO should not lift sanctions until Russia compensates Ukraine for the destruction it has caused and holds the soldiers who have committed war crimes, as well as their leaders, accountable. While there may be some room to negotiate whether this accountability occurs in domestic or international courts, any outcome that diminishes or ignores these crimes should be sufficient justification for continued sanctions and isolation.

Sixth, should Russian domestic conditions change, and it agrees to a minimally just settlement, the United States should consider a more rehabilitative approach and not just lift sanctions, but also assist Russia to improve its economic conditions and restore its relations with the international community.

Pursuing these measures is not likely to persuade Putin to negotiate. However, given the realities of this war, these measures vindicate the rights of Ukrainians even if the military capacity does not exist to fully restore them. Moreover, they provide an alternative to fighting that leaves Russia in a position where its ability to continue to provoke its neighbors is significantly diminished. Whether over the mid to long term, these conditions lead to a Russian government collapse or increased Russian resilience is difficult to say. But either way, they should make Ukraine more secure while placing the United States and NATO in a better position to address either Russian collapse or continued provocation and aggression.

Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff is the Research Professor for the Military Profession and Ethics at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. He is also a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. The views represented here are his own and do not necessarily reflect that of the United States Government.

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