Ukraine’s liberation of Kherson and the jubilant scenes of celebration on the streets of the newly freed territory have rightly dominated headlines across the world.
Visiting Kherson, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine’s victory over Russia in the region represents “the beginning of the end of the war.”
Zelensky’s elation is understandable, but also premature. Despite battlefield successes and Ukraine retaking more than half the territory that Russia had captured since it invaded in February, the end of the war is not in sight anytime soon. Liberating territory on the east bank of the Dnipro River remains a perilously difficult task for the Ukrainian military to achieve.
Ukrainian battlefield successes have also begun to impact policymakers in the multinational coalition providing Kyiv with vital military, intelligence, and logistical support.
Yet far from reassuring Kyiv’s backers of Ukraine’s ability to liberate all its occupied territory, diplomatic pressure has been building behind the scenes to push Ukraine into negotiations with Russia. This is a mistake. Laudable a goal though peace is, the only way peace can be achieved is through the decisive defeat of Russia. Those who fear that Russia will be humiliated miss the point: If Russia isn’t humiliated, it will inevitably try again. Listen to the boasts of Kremlin mouthpieces on Russian state media about it. [Continue reading…]