With the approach of winter and the likelihood of a prolonged stalemate on the battlefield, senior U.S. officials think it prudent that Ukraine eventually consider talks with Russia. At the same time, overt pressure for negotiations is building among some political elites in the West, as well as segments of the public in the United States and Europe. Given this political environment, will Kyiv contemplate significant concessions to end the loss of life and destruction in Ukraine? The answer will ultimately depend on the long-term resolve of Ukraine and the West to resist Russian aggression. The evidence suggests that while this commitment remains strong in Ukraine, it is eroding among its Western partners.
Ukraine’s successful resistance to Russia’s invasion relies on government leadership, military skill and determination, and robust support from the West. Yet the resolve of Ukrainian society is perhaps the decisive factor. Over a week after the start of the Russian invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated the central point of a lengthy article published under his name the previous summer, that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. In that article, Putin also castigates former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin for creating a Ukrainian socialist republic in the new Soviet state that stimulated Ukrainian nationalism and eventual demands for independence. But Putin himself has profoundly strengthened Ukrainian nationalism. According to Ukrainian and Russian scholars, the trauma of Putin’s invasion has fundamentally strengthened a unified Ukrainian identity defined around opposition to Russia.