Are you with us or against us? Whose side are you on? Clear confessions are demanded, differentiations are seen as evasions. Elon Musk, the head of Tesla, has described on Twitter how he imagines an end to the Russian war against Ukraine. His “peace plan” reads quite succinctly:
Referendums are to be held under UN supervision in the regions annexed by Moscow. If a majority of the population wants to stay with Ukraine, Russia will have to withdraw its troops. The Crimean peninsula is said to belong to Russia, and the Crimea’s drinking water supply is said to be secured. Ukraine renounces NATO membership.
As was to be expected, a storm of indignation quickly erupted over Musk. The outgoing German ambassador to Ukraine, Andriy Melnyk, countered most vehemently: “The only result is that no Ukrainian will ever buy your damn Tesla crap. Fuck off is my diplomatic response to you.”
It is important to know that without Elon Musk’s “Starlink” satellite, Ukrainian military communications would be highly vulnerable to Russian jamming. Shortly before this controversy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi issued a decree banning any negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The West wants to destroy Russia, Putin claims
Its war of aggression was fueled from the start with friend-foe rhetoric. The West wants to destroy Russia, Putin claimed and warned against domestic criticism of the war. The Russian people can distinguish real patriots from “scumbags and traitors”. It just spits them out like a fly that has accidentally flown into its mouth.
Does friend-foe rhetoric have to be answered with friend-foe rhetoric? Elon Musk’s “peace plan” is undoubtedly half-baked and unrealistic. It implies that both sides need to negotiate. He assumes that Ukrainian territory will illegally remain with Russia. He denies Ukraine non-alignment. But isn’t one of the West’s strengths in allowing dissent and even taking nonsense as inspirational?
Instead, the tone becomes increasingly shrill, irritable, unforgiving. The accusation of “appeasement” is quickly in the air, if the possibility of a ceasefire is even considered.
In fact, many arguments against negotiations with Putin weigh heavily. It is said that he cannot be trusted, that he will use every breather to regroup his army – and then strike again. In addition, the crimes committed by his soldiers in Ukraine are too heinous to be sanctioned by negotiations, possibly followed by a transfer of territory.
Strategy has law and morality on its side
So fight to victory, let the tanks roll until Russia is completely expelled from Ukraine, destroy as much Russian military equipment as possible, encourage those forces working to overthrow Putin, further weaken the Russian economy through harsh sanctions. That is currently, according to Western rhetoric, the strategy. She has the law and morality on her side. But does it lead to success? And what does that mean – success?
NATO has over 200 tactical nuclear weapons that can be deployed in Europe, and Russia has 2,000. The question, raging since the beginning of the war, of how a nuclear power can be defeated remains unanswered. It is right not to let the fears it triggers determine one’s own actions. It is obvious that Putin is trying to exploit these fears for his own ends. He wants to sow discord, divide the West. He must be denied that.
But what does Putin do when his troops are about to be defeated? He is threatened with disempowerment by radical nationalists. The Russian economy is weakened, energy exports to Europe have been cut off, and NATO has expanded with the addition of Sweden and Finland. When all of this is supplemented by reports of heavy casualties, deserting soldiers and a triumphant West, doesn’t the willingness to engage in radically irrational actions increase?
Nobody knows, not even Elon Musk. “The possible but unlikely consequence of this conflict is nuclear war,” he replied to one critic. Saying that and including it in real political scenarios should not be defamed as capitulation.
If the West wants to continue to stand united against Russian aggression, its protagonists must be grateful for every open and freely spoken word. Winning the war but losing the joy of fighting: That would confirm all the prejudices of the Putins of this world.
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