Trump's “crazy” proposal for peace in Ukraine is the only one possible

What if Donald Trump was right for once? Of course, the former president is known for his “outbursts” on the most varied topics. But, however one judges it, we must at least recognize the pragmatic nature that characterized the foreign policy of his Administration, which was worth a four-year period during which America did not fight wars and if anything consolidated the strategy of his predecessor Barack Obama: strike and destroy surgically, but without putting the boots on the groundthat is, the boots of soldiers on hostile terrain.

Today we live in times in which international relations are very unstable and equally the enemies of the West are multiplying as if by budding. And it is therefore necessary to ask ourselves how to put out the fire that spreads from Ukraine to Israel, and ends up in the Red Sea. Former President Trump doesn't offer hope, but he makes a promise.

He has said privately that he has a solution in his pocket that could end Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As? Simply by putting pressure on Kiev – we will see the details later – to cede some territories, according to sources who are very familiar with Trump and have discussed the peace plan with him. In this way, according to him, it would be possible to stem the risk that NATO will sooner or later be forced to provide active military assistance to those attacked, now incapable of stopping the war machine that Vladimir Putin has unleashed against him to «de-Nazify » Eastern Europe, whatever that means.

Obviously, for the detractors of the Republican candidate in this year's presidential elections, the idea he conceived would be too unbalanced in favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who would see the violation of internationally recognized borders and the barbarism which forced the Ukrainian population and the conviction of the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

The peace plan according to Donald Trump

In a nutshell, Trump's proposal consists in recognizing the status quo: since Kiev cannot regain the lost territory, it might as well cede it permanently as long as Moscow stops pulverizing Ukrainian cities by pounding the civilian population with hypersonic missiles. “They are wiping us out” confessed no more than two days ago Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian foreign minister, who also said he was certain of defeat if the military commands do not receive new supplies in time. And if we look closely, if we are not already beyond the point of no return, the delay in reaching these weapons in Kiev will still cost tens of thousands of victims, who may have died needlessly if no decision is made by April.

Trump wants to convince Ukraine to cede to Russia control not only of the Crimean peninsula – which the latter occupied in 2014 – but also the regions that make up the Donbass, namely Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as the regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson, directly connected to Crimea. In this way, Moscow could keep up appearances by claiming that it had “gained territory for the Russian Empire” and not that it had essentially failed to occupy the whole of Ukraine. As for Kharkiv and the other regions bordering the Dnipro river – the natural watershed between the East and West of the country – they would constitute that buffer zone so dear to the generals, which would also have the advantage of taking away arguments from Putin when he says of feeling surrounded by NATO.

This pragmatic approach has not previously been reported during any of the futile peace conferences that have taken place in the past. But above all it is a full and drastic disavowal of the policy held thus far by President Joe Biden, who supports the need to contain – and if anything defeat – the Russian aggressor, continuing to provide military aid to Ukraine “as long as there is a need”. And it is also the reason why Trump is pleased with his plan: in one fell swoop, he would obtain peace and humiliate the Democratic Party.

But in all this, what would Ukraine get in return? Trump privately said he was convinced that both Russia and Ukraine “want to save face, want a way out” and that, after all, it wouldn't be a drama for the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine to return to the Kremlin. Therefore, it would be enough to promise Kiev a mountain of money for the reconstruction of the West and, obviously, the peace guaranteed by American cannons.

Of course, as long as we are on the electoral campaign it will be easy for Trump to belittle Biden's work and draw on geographical maps new areas of influence and pre-packaged schemes for a lasting ceasefire. It will be a matter of seeing what the former president will actually do, if re-elected, and under what conditions he will inherit the conflict. And so even if Putin and/or Zelensky even agree to sit across from each other to negotiate an end to hostilities.

For now, even just imagining being able to draw an armistice line along a thousand or more kilometers where the front lines of the war run may not be so simple. «In September 2022 the Kremlin declared its intention to annex four southern and eastern Ukrainian provinces, including the Donbass region, but extending far beyond. Since Kiev still controls much of the territory, any attempt to resolve the war with territorial concessions will likely involve protracted haggling, unless both sides simply agree to freeze the front lines in place at the time of the agreement.” there CNNciting geopolitical experts.

Who doubt that Donald Trump's peace efforts can succeed. Among them is Fiona Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who also served as Trump's top adviser on Russia and has since emerged as a prominent critic. According to her «the situation is reminiscent of 2017, when foreigners and unverified business leaders approached Trump with various peace plans, and he thought he could sit down with Russia and Ukraine and mediate thanks to his personal charisma ». We know how it ended.

The knots of peace

Trump has often boasted that he could negotiate “a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine within 24 hours.” And, in many ways, his approach is consistent with his presidential vision: he prefers plot twists over political details, places excessive faith in his own negotiating skills and is intolerant of lengthy legalities and conventional diplomatic protocols. Certainly, despite his hasty manner, he managed to transform the GOP from the war-mongering Republican Party of Bush's time into one that is more skeptical towards interventions abroad, as the failure to reach an agreement on military aid to Ukraine demonstrates.

However, the fact that Trump has always complimented Putin and has done acrobatics to avoid criticizing him has made even the most Trumpian members of the GOP turn up their noses. Because, after all, for the Americans, Russia is still the former Soviet Union, and no concessions should be made to the communists. Furthermore, Trump's team «is thinking about this issue in a very limited way, that it is only a Ukraine-Russia issue», Fiona Hill further reflects. “They see it as a territorial dispute, rather than an issue that affects the entire future of European security and, by extension, the world order.”

Not only. Seen from Poland and the Baltics, the situation is not so simple. And even before the US Republicans, all Europeans must be convinced that Putin really does not intend to march towards Europe to reconstitute the Empire that he once was. Just as it is unlikely that the United States “will be able to force the Ukrainian leadership to engage in policies that would constitute internal political suicide”, as stated by Michael Kofman, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. «No amount of leverage the United States has can force Ukraine to cede territory or make these types of concessions. This is a situation where if you are willing to lend a hand, the other party will very quickly want the rest of your arm.”

Therefore, although animated by the best intentions, Trump offers a solution destined to clash with many uncertainties and too many obstacles. First, Volodymyr Zelensky would never agree to cede any territory. Second, the exchange of territories and a consequent ceasefire would disavow the policies expressed thus far by Brussels and would put the whole of Europe in the uncomfortable and ambiguous position of having to admit a substantial defeat, moreover without any guarantee that Russia would not rearm and would resume hostilities in the future. Third and most important, Donald Trump has not yet been re-elected, and all this is just a vague wish for peace for now.