Times of India’s Edit Page team comprises senior journalists with wide-ranging interests who debate and opine on the news and issues of the day.
Volodymyr Zelensky asked for continued American support during his in-person speech to the US Congress. On his first known trip abroad since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky pitched American aid as an investment in international security and democracy. Clearly, his message was directed at the incoming Republican majority in the US House of Representatives, many of whom have become sceptical about unfettered aid to Kyiv that comes out of American taxpayers’ pocket. In fact, the Biden administration has just announced another $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine that will include for the first time the Patriot air defence system.
However, Russia has warned that increasing the supply of American arms to Ukraine will only aggravate the conflict. But while Moscow plans to boost the size of its armed forces by 30%, even Vladimir Putin recently admitted that the situation in the four Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions was complicated. And getting trapped in a long drawn-out conflict will further strain the Russian economy and create conditions for discontent and turmoil within Russian society.
Meanwhile, the continued Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure means that millions of Ukrainian citizens are facing a catastrophic winter with no electricity or running water even as temperatures plummet. Given the huge humanitarian crisis unfolding, the Ukrainian leadership needs to be practical here. True, grave injustice has been wrought on Ukraine. But in order to end the suffering of the Ukrainian people, a negotiated end to the conflict is worth considering. With the Russian military also finding the going tough as winter sets in, perhaps this is the moment to reopen channels of communication and go back to the dialogue table.
Of course, this won’t be easy for Zelensky given that his country continues to be under attack. But pushing Putin into a corner and prolonging the conflict indefinitely will harm Ukrainians themselves. Thus, both sides need to work out an acceptable exit strategy to end the war, which globally has pushed inflation up and energy costs higher.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.