Finding a Way Out of the Societal War Over Ukraine
Hope for bringing an end to this tragic, dangerous quagmire hinges on recognizing the fundamentally society-centric nature of the conflict.
While Putin has similarly held fast thus far, he must also be realizing that Russia’s bag of tricks to subdue domestic opposition, heighten the population’s anxiety about Western or “Nazi” plots, and drum up popular support for the war effort keeps dwindling. But like the case of Ukraine, for these sentiments to hold any promise of producing a more conciliatory Russian approach toward a settlement, there must be an injection of hope for Russians: that Western sanctions will be eased and subsequently removed, that NATO will not be further expanded eastward, and that a genuine effort will be made to reintegrate Russia into the mainstream—economically, politically, and, perhaps most importantly, symbolically—if its orientation fundamentally changes. Additionally, the West must also reluctantly commit not to go after Putin (if and when he relents and accepts the conditions it lays out), leaving the job of removing him from office to divine intervention or the Russian people themselves.
Ariel (Eli) Levite is a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Technology and International Affairs Program.