“Give diplomacy a chance.” This phrase gets repeated in almost every conflict, and the war in Ukraine is no exception. A chorus of commentators, experts, and former policymakers have pushed for a negotiated peace at every turn on the battlefield: after the successful defense of Kyiv, once Russia withdrew to the east, during the summer of Russia’s plodding progress in the Donbas, after Russia’s rout in Kharkiv oblast, and now, in the aftermath of Russia’s retreat from Kherson. The better the Ukrainian military has done, the louder the calls for Ukraine to negotiate have become.
And today, it’s no longer just pundits pushing for a negotiated settlement. The U.S. House of Representatives’ progressive caucus penned a letter to President Joe Biden calling for a diplomatic solution, only to retract it a short time later. Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy has promised to scrutinize military aid to Ukraine and push for an end to the war. Even Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley has reportedly pushed for Ukraine to negotiate, although he subsequently made clear that the decision should be Kyiv’s alone.