Biden Must Pressure Zelensky to Accept a Cease-Fire to Save Ukraine From Being Overrun by Russia and Avert World War Three
Russia's much-anticipated spring offensive is likely to begin later this month could surround Ukrainian troops in southeast Ukraine and threaten Kyiv with up to 500,000 additional troops
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time to discuss peace shortly after he was elected President in 2019
(Author’s note: An earlier version of this article was published in “The Real War” on September 28, 2022 and was the first comprehensive cease-fire and armistice proposal to be published in the West. It is being republished with major updates given the urgency of implementing an immediate cease fire and armistice agreement before the much-anticipated massive Russian spring offensive overruns a much greater percentage of Ukrainian territory, potentially encircling Ukrainian forces in southeastern Ukraine and threatening to surround Kyiv itself.)
Seven months to the day after he announced Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Russian President Vladmir Putin gave a televised address announcing support for Russian annexation of all four Russian-occupied Ukrainian oblasts and a massive Russian military mobilization, not seen since the Second World War, while warning Russia was not bluffing in threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia’s territorial integrity. The annexation was formalized by the Russian Duma less than two weeks later. I had predicted five months earlier that Putin would annex these regions if Zelensky refused to return to the negotiation table and that is exactly what happened. Following his remarks, former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev clarified that Putin’s nuclear threat applied to any attempt by Ukraine to recapture parts of the soon to be annexed Ukrainian territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia and stated that he did not believe NATO would respond militarily to such a limited Russian nuclear escalation in Ukraine.
This annexation increased Russia’s population from approximately 146 to 151 million people, transforming Ukraine from the 2nd largest to the 4th largest country in Europe, and along with the over 8.1 million refugees who have left the country since the war began reduced Ukraine’s population from approximately 41 million before the war to a mere 28 million. In the same speech, Putin’s announced a major mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russia’s military reservists in order to overrun Ukraine in a planned Russian winter offensive that could bring an end to Ukrainian independence this spring. In another televised address last month commemorating the one-year anniversary of the war, Putin explained his reasoning for why he decided to invade Ukraine and why he believes the war is an existential proxy war between Russia and NATO.
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Following the successful Ukrainian Kharkiv counteroffensive which succeeded in liberating ten percent of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory last fall, Western leaders continue to greatly overestimate Ukraine’s chances of winning the war even though Russia remains in control of eighteen percent of Ukrainian territory including Crimea and continue to make incremental progress in their drive to conquer all of the Donbass region. Some U.S. leaders believe Russia has already suffered “a strategic defeat” because Putin failed to take Kyiv and overthrow the Zelensky government last year while the Russian military has suffered significant losses in terms of troops and material. However, the truth is Russia is far from defeated and may be just getting started.
There is an increasing urgency to implement an immediate cease fire and armistice agreement before the much-anticipated massive Russian spring offensive, likely to begin later this month, overruns a much greater percentage of Ukrainian territory with an additional 300,000-500,000 Russian troops in 22 newly-formed Russian Army divisions with Ukrainian Defense Ministry officials voicing concern that they could potentially encircle Ukrainian forces in southeastern Ukraine and once again threaten to surround Kyiv itself. If Russian forces were to achieve a breakthrough between Sumy and Kharkiv, they could drive southwest to Zaporizhzhia, surround Ukrainian troops fighting in and around Donetsk oblast and bomb the Dnipro River bridges to prevent Ukrainian troops from retreating in what could easily become a modern-day Dunkirk. Then Putin could threaten to annex most or all of Ukraine’s territory east of the Dnipro if Zelensky refused to make peace on Russian terms. The commencement of this Russian offensive will likely mark the effective end of Russia’s so-called “special military operation” which has been fought as a limited war with quite limited objectives, and the start of a full-scale war against Ukraine which is likely to be fought much more aggressively by Moscow, potentially including some of Russia’s powerful but not yet utilized unconventional weapons, with the objective of Ukraine’s total capitulation.
While many U.S. leaders view Biden’s proxy war against Russia as a win-win that is serving to weaken Russia militarily without the loss of a single U.S. military servicemen, Dr. John Mearsheimer has stated that the war has been “an unmitigated geopolitical disaster for the West” thus far. The reasons are because it has driven Russia into a closer military alliance with Communist China, caused Russia to expand the size of its active-duty military by fifty percent, has drained US military weapons and munitions stockpiles and has tied down US military forces in Eastern Europe at a time when we should be focusing on great power competition with China.
The Biden administration seems to have acknowledged that Ukraine will be unable to reconquer additional territory from Russia. In January, the Biden administration reportedly offered to allow Russia to keep all of the territory it has annexed from Ukraine in exchange for peace but Zelensky rejected Biden’s peace proposal. Since then, the Biden administration has reportedly made clear to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US won’t be able to maintain this level of military support beyond early summer and that accordingly Ukraine will have to negotiate a peace deal with Russia in which it trades territory for peace later this year if not by summer. Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stated there will be “no blank check” of U.S. military support with the Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives. Both Republican presidential frontrunners—former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis have both come out strongly against continuing US military aid to Ukraine. DeSantis stated “the US has many vital national security interests” but “becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.”
Following Putin’s announcement that Russia would annex the four Ukrainian oblasts they occupied back in September, the Russian Foreign Ministry offered Ukraine a cease fire to end the war, stating that most of the objectives of Russia’s special military operation had been achieved and that the remainder could be achieved entirely through diplomatic means. Russia’s offer for a cease-fire to end the war has been on the table ever since. However, the Ukrainian government continues to refuse to meet with Russian diplomatic representatives to negotiate an end to the war, due to the West’s massive, uninterrupted military support. While the Biden administration has touted Ukraine’s planned spring counteroffensive some Ukrainian Ministry of Defense officials have stated Ukraine lacks sufficient troops, weapons, and munitions to be able to pull off such an offensive now that Russia has surged the number of its troops fighting in Ukraine and thus the chances of Ukraine recapturing additional territory from Russia appears slim. Even worse, if Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive were successful in capturing Mariupol and cutting off the land bridge connecting Crimea with the rest of Russia, it could provoke a Russian nuclear response against Ukraine.
It is likely that no increase in Western weapons shipments to Ukraine will be sufficient to prevent it from being overwhelmed by what could end up being as much as a 266% increase in the number of Russian troops fighting in Ukraine from approximately 300,000 today to as many as 800,000 troops after the much-anticipated Russian spring offensive kicks off into full gear. Accordingly, the momentum in the war is going to shift very much in Russia’s favor. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated back in November, now is the best time for Ukraine to negotiate a peace deal with Russia to lock in Ukraine’s battlefield gains with four out of eight Russian occupied Ukrainian regions having been freed of Russian occupation forces before a massive surge in Russian reinforcements overwhelms Ukraine’s resolute defenders.
There is mounting evidence that the mainstream media continues to minimize Ukrainian casualties while greatly inflating Russian military casualties in an effort to maintain public support for the war and prevent Americans from supporting diplomatic solutions which is very counterproductive as it has served to unnecessarily prolong the suffering of the Ukrainian people and massively increase the number of deaths and destruction in Ukraine. While Putin has made numerous mistakes in his prosecution of the war in Ukraine, chief among which has been to badly underman and under resource Russian military forces in Ukraine forcing them to fight outnumbered by Ukrainian forces about three to one until he began increasing the number of Russian troops in Ukraine last October, Russian forces have still been able to inflict nearly three times as many casualties against Ukrainian forces than they have suffered. In an interview last month, LTC Daniel Davis revealed that Ukraine has suffered "enormous casualties" totaling “at least 300,000 men” and "everything seems to be trending for the Russian side" while ISW reports that Ukrainian forces are "undermanned" in comparison to Russian forces whereas Russian forces were badly undermanned during the first eight months of the war. While it has been estimated that Ukraine has suffered 135,000 killed in action, Russian casualties have been much less likely closer to 50,000 killed in action.
Furthermore, while Ukraine has fully mobilized all its men aged 18-50, Russia still has millions of reservists it could mobilize and throw into the fight. Russian forces have underperformed to date in terms of seizing new territory but have excelled both at defensive operations and in using their massive advantage in artillery and munitions to exact heavy Ukrainian casualties. It is unlikely that Ukraine can continue to sustain this rate of military casualties. Accordingly, even if the Russian spring offensive makes limited gains, Russia is well-positioned to win a prolonged war of attrition against Ukraine with 5.3 times more people, an economy 11 times larger and 35 times more territory, millions more army reservists it could mobilize and about 5 times more tanks, combat aircraft and artillery. A recent Washington Post report notes that Ukraine is “suffering from basic shortages of ammunition, including artillery shells and mortar bombs.” U.S. armaments production has not come close to keeping pace with Kyiv’s defense requirements, which has forced the U.S. to delay arms shipments to Taiwan.
In view of these facts, there is only one way the West can prevent Ukraine from being decisively defeated on the battlefield over the next several months, short of fighting a Third World War against Russia that would be all but certain to escalate to the nuclear level, and that is through a return to diplomacy. President Biden needs to call for an immediate cease fire without preconditions and armistice agreement to save Ukraine, ensure its security and preserve its continued political and economic independence with control of at least 82 percent of its internationally-recognized territory including over 88 percent of the territory it controlled before the Russian invasion began on February 24th of last year.
As stated in a recent article in the New York Intelligencer:
“A resolution that enables Ukraine to enjoy sovereignty over the vast majority of its territory, economic viability, and geopolitical security would represent a national triumph, and constitute a foundation for a prosperous and peaceful future. It should be possible to satisfy those first two conditions without affecting any dramatic change in territorial control. Were Russia to conquer the entirety of Ukraine’s coastline, rendering the nation a landlocked country, its future economic prospects would be severely impaired. If Ukraine retains sovereignty over the territory it presently controls, however, the purely geographic impediments to its prosperity will not be significant… The longer the war persists, the more lives it will take, and the more challenging Ukraine’s ultimate recovery will be. Further, given Russia’s potential advantages in a prolonged conflict, avoiding a long war may be a martial imperative.”
A recent RAND Corporation report seems to underscore the fact that the risks of prolonging the war, which include potential Russian nuclear escalation and/or an escalation of the war into a full-scale war between Russia and NATO far outweigh the benefits the U.S. and Ukraine might hope to achieve. It is in the US national security interest to incentivize both Russia and Ukraine to negotiate a permanent cease fire as soon as possible to avoid a potential Russian escalation to the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine and/or against one or more frontline NATO states where US military forces are based, with catastrophic consequences. The administration could do so by offering to suspend the implementation of all new economic sanctions against Russia, U.S. troop reinforcements to Eastern Europe, and lethal military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for an immediate and sustained Russian ceasefire. Suspending lethal military assistance to Ukraine is necessary to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to agree to a cease-fire as continued massive U.S. military support to Ukraine, totaling $113 billion thus far, gives him no incentive to do so. A relaxation of sanctions following a peace deal would likely provide badly needed economic relief, including significantly lower fuel, food, and energy prices, to tens of millions of financially distressed Americans just as the economy may be on the verge of a double dip recession with continued high inflation. It would also serve to significantly lessen the severity of the worsening global food crisis, which threatens to cause the deaths by starvation of millions of people in the Third World.
The terms of the armistice agreement would be as follows:
1. All hostilities between the Russian Federation and Ukraine shall immediately cease.
2. All Western lethal military assistance to Ukraine shall be suspended so long as Russia honors the terms of the armistice agreement.
3. Russia will immediately suspend its limited Black Sea blockade of Ukraine.
4. The United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand will lift their bans on Russian food and fuel exports.
5. All prisoners of war shall be returned to their home country. (This provision would greatly favor Ukraine as Russia has captured many times more Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) than Ukraine has captured Russian POWs).
6. U.N. peacekeepers from neutral countries shall be deployed as soon as practicable along the armistice line of control where fighting has continued in recent weeks. (Optionally, a four kilometer wide Demilitarized Zone could be created along the borders of the four Russian annexed Ukrainian regions similar to the one that separates North and South Korea).
7. Delegations from the Russian and Ukrainian governments shall convene an immediate peace conference in Istanbul to resume negotiations for a compromise peace agreement where both parties left off when Ukraine withdrew from peace negotiations in April.
While I was first writing my original cease-fire proposal, one of the provisions of the proposed armistice agreement I included was that, Russia would resume natural gas shipments to the European Union via the Nord Stream 1 or Nord Stream 2 pipelines but on September 27th, both of them were severely damaged by acts of sabotage in what appear to be an act of retaliation against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The day after the pipeline attacks, former President Donald Trump offered to serve as a Special Envoy to lead a US delegation to mediate peace talks to end the war in Ukraine out of concern that sabotaging the pipelines might spark “World War III,” particularly if Moscow believed that the United States or another NATO member was responsible. As Seymour Hersch exposed in his recent article “How America Took out the Nordstream Pipeline”, the Biden administration planned to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines if the Russians invaded Ukraine, planted the explosives during the summer and then blew them up causing one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in history. The Nord Stream pipeline had provided energy security to Europe for decades and its reopening might have saved hundreds if not thousands of Europeans from freezing to death this past winter. The Biden administration claimed that Russia was likely responsible for destroying their own pipelines but former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski gave the first clue as to who the real perpetrator was when he tweeted his thanks to the U.S. for knocking it out of commission within hours of its destruction.
Such an armistice agreement would not only serve to end the war in Ukraine and its ensuing death and destruction, but it would allow over fifteen million Ukrainian refugees to return home and fifty percent of Ukrainian businesses to re-open and begin the long process of Ukrainian reconstruction and economic recovery, it would also serve to bring Russia, Ukraine and NATO back from the brink of nuclear war. In the event of any Russian military attacks on Ukraine in violation of the armistice agreement, the US and NATO would resume economic sanctions against Russia and weapon shipments to Ukraine. If Ukraine resumed hostilities with Russia, the West would cut off all economic support for Kyiv including funding for reconstruction. As part of the agreement, the West would agree to lift only those economic sanctions on Russia which have been harming its own citizens namely bans on Russian food and fuel exports to help fight inflation and end the recession that has gripped most Western countries following the enactment of their economic sanctions on Russia. The objective of such an agreement would not be a frozen conflict as was achieved by the Minsk Agreement but a genuine end to the conflict with a promise of permanent Ukrainian neutrality outside of NATO, guaranteed by the US, Britain and France, along with other concessions they have been seeking spelled out in my proposed peace agreement including lifting of most if not all Western economic sanctions designed to ensure Russia never again attacks Ukraine.
Negotiation of a final peace agreement would undoubtedly be a long and arduous undertaking, particularly given how adamantly opposed the Ukrainian government has been to agree to any territorial concessions to Russia in order to end the war, which is why it is important to include as many mutually agreeable elements of such a peace agreement in the armistice agreement as possible. Under such a peace agreement, Russia would agree to an expansion of NATO to include Sweden and Finland in exchange for written guarantees that NATO will never expand eastward into additional former Soviet republics and that it will never station or deploy its armed forces in Finland or Sweden except in the event of a direct military attack against NATO. As part of the peace agreement, there would be a general amnesty for all Ukrainian citizens accused of collaboration or advocating peace with Russia, which the Ukrainian government has designated as war crimes and treasonable offenses. The U.S. would not recognize any Russian annexations of Ukrainian territory unless and until such a peace agreement was signed and implemented.
My fifteen-point peace proposal, which is the most comprehensive peace plan which has been published in the West thus far, might serve as a useful basis for negotiations with a few major changes including allowing Ukraine to keep all of its weapons except for ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and strategic surface-to-air missiles. The number of Ukrainian troops permitted under the agreement would be revised to 100,000 active and 600,000 reserve troops matching the maximum total troops which Ukraine is believed to have mobilized for the war. Proposed peace terms would include permanent Ukrainian neutrality with security guarantees by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and some kind of Ukrainian recognition of continued de facto Russian control of Crimea, Luhansk and the parts of Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia which they have already annexed with Ukraine renouncing any future attempts to retake these territories by force.
While Ukraine stands the most to gain from an armistice agreement, every nation involved in the conflict could legitimately claim victory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could declare victory by asserting that he forced the Russians to stop fighting and accept a cease fire with successful counteroffensives that expelled invading Russian forces from four Ukrainian oblasts. Meanwhile, Western leaders could claim victory by stating their military assistance to Ukraine helped them force Russia to declare an end to the war and Putin could claim “mission accomplished” for Russia’s special military operation since it succeeded in returning eighty percent of the Donbass region to Russian control. Ending the war as quickly as possible could potentially save the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives if this tragic and unnecessary war were to be allowed to continue until most of Ukraine has been overrun by Russian forces. Economically speaking, the benefits of Ukraine negotiating such an agreement sparing its cities from further destruction and allowing for the reconstruction of thousands of its roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, which has been estimated might cost as much as $750 billion would be profound. The war has forced half of Ukraine’s businesses to close while a peace deal could allow them to re-open, allowing millions of its unemployed citizens to return to work while ending Russia’s devastating Black Sea naval blockade, restoring its ability to engage in international trade via the Black Sea and enabling most of its nearly thirteen million refugees to return home. Furthermore, ending the war would allow Ukraine to rebuild its economy after suffering a thirty percent reduction in the size of its GDP last year.
Finally, the U.S. should come to an agreement with Russia that if it remains neutral in the event of the outbreak of a potential conflict with Communist China over Taiwan, which the U.S. would nevertheless do everything it could do to avoid by implementing a new strategy to counter China through entirely peaceful means, the U.S. would rescind all remaining economic sanctions on Russia and provide a written guarantee that Ukraine would never join the NATO alliance. Furthermore, if Russia remained neutral until the end of such a conflict, the U.S. and NATO would agree to a Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) II Treaty in which western NATO countries would withdraw all of its troops from eastern Europe in exchange for a Russian military withdrawal from Belarus and Ukraine. Such a mutual security agreement would have the potential of ending hostilities between NATO and Russia long-term by recognizing Russia’s legitimate security concerns in Europe, thereby ending the specter of a nuclear Third World War between NATO and Russia, which today is greater than it was even during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Recent Media Interviews:
March 9, 2023—I sat down with Dr. Pascal Lottaz of Neutrality Studies to discuss my recent article “Missed Opportunities for Peace—The Secret Diplomatic History of the Second World War” As I note in this interview, tens of millions of people died in an unnecessary Second World War in Europe and the Pacific because the British refused to negotiate a peace deal with Germany over control of the free city of Danzig and the Polish Corridor (a small strip of territory a little larger in size than Montenegro), even though they had supported their return to Germany since 1925, and because FDR refused to accept Japan's pre-war offer to withdraw from southern China and Indochina and have the US mediate an end to its war with China. Will hundreds of millions of Americans have to die in an unnecessary Third World War because U.S. leaders refuse to negotiate an end to the border dispute between Ukraine and Russia (over who controls a small percentage of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory the size of Lithuania) and the Taiwan issue with the PRC?
March 10, 2023-Worldview Weekend Radio Show Hosted by Brannon Howse discussing US vulnerability to a Sino-Russian nuclear, super EMP or massive cyberattack. Here is the link to the interview.
March 10, 2023--Worldview Weekend Hour Hosted by Brannon Howse on Lindell TV discussing the looming threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Here is the link to the interview.
March 16, 2023 “Are We Ready?” Podcast Hosted by Carlos Carillo discussing the increasing threat of the outbreak of World War Three with Russia and China.
March 20, 2023--Worldview Weekend Hour Hosted by Brannon Howse on Lindell TV discussing the Putin-Xi summit this week in Moscow, North Korean nuclear missile threats against the US, the increasing threats of Russian and Chinese cyber and EMP attack and the looming threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
March 22, 2023--Worldview Weekend Hour Hosted by Brannon Howse on Lindell TV discussing what Chinese President Xi told Russian President Putin in Moscow and the increasing threat of a crippling Sino-Russian cyber-space first strike against the U.S.
April 7-8th--I will be speaking on Friday, April 7th from 2:00pm to 2:45 pm and on April 8th from 11:45am to 12:30pm on Saturday April 8th at the Firm Foundation Expo being held at the Mountain America Expo Center (MAEC) 9575 S. State Street in Sandy, Utah.
© David T. Pyne 2023
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and Headquarters staff officer, who was in charge of armaments cooperation with the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas from 2000-2003, with an M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of National Operations for the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and is a contributor to Dr. Peter Pry’s book “Blackout Warfare” and his upcoming book “Catastrophe Now--What US Leaders Must do to Ensure America's Survival." He also serves as the Editor of “The Real War” newsletter at dpyne.substack.com and as a contributor to “The National Interest”. Here is a link to his interview archive. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading "The Real War" by David Pyne! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Thank you David Pyne for articulating point by point, the necessary steps needed to bring this senseless war to an end. Now all we need is the will of the Politicians.
Frank Zappa once compared the human mind to a parachute, stating that it works best when opened. I am praying that the people in charge will heed your words and open their minds.
You certainly deserve more commentary and reader engagement, Dave.
As for " . . . What US Leaders Must do to Ensure America's Survival", they are not true leader, more Ivy League parasites helped into positions of influence.
What then they should do is resign, some to gaol and have people with a track record of real competencies take over - quite impossible.
The United States sinks as those states possessing the world's resources and manufacturing capability abandon the US dollar.
As for Washington's Proxy War turned pear shaped, David - One Great Game To Many . . . https://les7eb.substack.com/p/washingtons-war-ix-one-great-game
Feel free to subscribe. An occasional essay, always free. Edifying, uplifting, instructive.
BTW - President Putin is not Adolph Hitler and comparisons with the former, the quite popular for a time German Chancellor and President, treat us as fools.
US Presidents leave, in their wake, millions dead and no invaded country rebuilt.
It is they who have more in common with the former Nazi State Leadership.