With how horrible Putin’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine is going, it seems it would be within Putin’s interest to fight for a ceasefire in Ukraine.
Russian forces are in many cases trapped, out of fuel, low on food, and with very low morale. Some Ukrainian reports (quoted by the Ukrainian President) estimate that more than 40,000 Russian soldiers have died.
But despite this, a ceasefire is extremely unlikely. Indeed, it seems like the stubborn Putin will be in this for the long run — despite the tremendous cost it will inflict on his people.
We all know by now that Putin’s focus has shifted from taking the capital, Kyiv, to taking large parts of eastern Ukraine, areas that are closer to Russia’s border. This would connect the Crimean peninsula to larger cities that were meant to be of significant strategic importance, such as Mariupol. Mariupol, however, has been decimated, making it obsolete to Putin’s prior strategic interests.
President Zelenskyy has shown interest in de-escalating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the large-scale invasion. But more recently, the tide has turned against negotiating with dictators and autocrats. But some still believe that negotiating a ceasefire would be instrumental. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, is among the more potent examples. But many disagree.
Both Zelenskyy and Putin have promised ceasefires in Donbas before. In fact, one of Zelenskyy’s central campaign proposals against Petro Poroshenko, one of his political opponents, was to demilitarize the Donbas region. In accordance with his promise to the Ukrainian people, Ukraine proposed to send 1,500 police officers from the OSCE to patrol the conflict zone in November 2020.
Zelenskyy was not able to deliver on that promise.
There are many reasons for this, which are above this short post, but it should be noted that these reasons are not solely Zelenskyy’s fault. But one could make a persuasive argument that Putin saw Zelenskyy as a weak actor and aimed to use Zelenskyy’s lack of experience as a tipping point for his continued invasion of Ukraine and, finally, his complete invasion on the 24th of February.