Putin has 'no way out' of failed Ukraine invasion, former NATO ambassador says

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has “no way out” of his weeks-long invasion of Ukraine, according to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker.

While some foreign policy experts have expressed surprise that Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has continued into mid-March, Volker says he expected Ukraine to show strong resistance, and Putin has only dug himself into a deeper hole by continuing his war against the sovereign nation without showing any indication of agreeing to a peace deal so far.

“Putin who has no way out. He has gone all-in in this military effort to take over Ukraine. And it’s failing,” Volker, former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, told Fox News Digital. “So, he’s just going to keep doubling down and doubling down on a military victory that is looking increasingly unlikely.”

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Putin is demanding Ukraine demilitarize, recognize Russian control over Crimea and renounce any efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is an intergovernmental, military-political alliance between the United States, Canada and a number of European countries. NATO was founded after World War II in 1949 in an effort to protect European countries within the alliance against threats from Russia — then the Soviet Union. 

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Ukraine is not part of NATO, which plays no formal role in Russia’s war with Ukraine, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy has called on alliance officials to implement a no-fly zone over his country to stop Russian missile attacks. Most NATO officials have thus far denied those requests, citing concerns of a third world war against Russia.

Volker said he “doesn’t see” Ukraine bowing to Putin’s demands “at all,” with the possible exception of agreeing not to recognize Ukraine as a NATO ally. He does not expect Ukraine to demilitarize but instead strengthen its military and “look for other security guarantees.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during the concert marking the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, March,18 2022, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during the concert marking the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, March,18 2022, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

He added that Ukrainians “feel like time is on their side now.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is demanding Russia commit to a cease-fire and withdraw their forces from Ukraine, which Volker does not think is likely in the near future but may happen eventually. 

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“I could see some commitments or some statement by Ukraine that they’re not joining NATO, as long as they have sovereignty and territorial integrity. And they may accept also to agree to disagree over Crimea and … not accepting that their independent states are part of Russia, but also not fighting to take them back. That’s conceivable,” the former NATO ambassador said.

Even once an agreement is reached between the two countries, Russia is facing a bleak future, militarily and economically, according to Volker.

“Everybody can see it. People are leaving Russia. You can’t get money. There’s no there are shortages of goods in the stores. Everyone can see what’s going on, and they know that this is a disaster for Russia,” he said, adding that he expects Putin to be replaced by a more “rational” leader.

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“Putin is acting in many ways irrationally, but get a rational actor in there — they’re going to want to settle the conflict, stop the bleeding of the Russian military, get the sanctions lifted, so they can get an economy going again, and have some kind of peace deal with Ukraine and with the West,” Volker continued. “That would be the rational thing to do.”

Zelenskyy said Friday on his telegram channel that “meaningful negotiations on peace — on security for…Ukraine —  are the only chance for Russia to reduce the damage from its own mistakes,” adding that it is “time” for Russian and Ukrainian officials to meet and talk.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on Russia's military operation in Ukraine, on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv. (Photo by Presidency of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, on February 25, 2022 in Kyiv. (Photo by Presidency of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be so huge that several generations will not be enough to rebound,” he said.

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Putin has referred to the invasion as a “special military operation” meant to “denazify” Ukraine — phrases that have confused and angered Ukraine and its Western allies.

“The West, collectively, is trying to fracture our society … to provoke a civil conflict in Russia, by means of the fifth column,” the Russian president claimed in a Thursday speech. “The goal is Russia’s collapse.”

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