The Irish Times view on war in Ukraine: Endgame scenarios

Neither Russia nor Ukraine is keen to return to the negotiating table while the outcome of the current battle is in the balance

As the fighting intensifies and Russian missiles strike Kyiv while the United States steps up the supply of weapons to Ukraine, the prospect of peace is receding. The talks mediated by Turkey and others in March have stopped for now and neither Russia nor Ukraine is keen to return to the negotiating table while the outcome of the current battle is in the balance. Ukraine's allies have responded to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's appeal for more and heavier weapons. Nato is united in support of Ukraine, but there are differences in tone among its member-states.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin defined the war aim this week in terms of weakening Russia to the point where it cannot repeat its aggression in Ukraine anywhere else. Other governments, including those of France and Germany, have not given up on a negotiated peace sooner rather than later, although they recognise that there will be more fighting before serious talks resume. It is important that a negotiated outcome remains on the international agenda and hope of any alternative to a military solution must not be abandoned.

The outlines of a peace agreement are disputed but any settlement must deal with Ukraine's security and territory and the future of sanctions against Russia. Zelenskiy has already agreed to keep Ukraine out of Nato if its security can be guaranteed by a group of international powers including China as well as western countries.

Before the peace talks stalled, Ukrainian negotiators suggested that the territorial question could be compartmentalised and left for later negotiations. This has been complicated by the savagery of the Russian invasion as well as growing confidence among Ukraine’s allies that its forces can prevail on the battlefield.


Revulsion at the atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha and Mariupol will make it hard for the EU and the US to unwind the sanctions they have imposed on Putin and his country. But as we know well on this island, making peace often involves unsavoury moral compromises that can see justice sacrificed to save lives.