What it's like to try to negotiate with the Kremlin and why President Vladimir Putin won't give up easily in Ukraine are two topics the former US ambassador to Russia discussed with the BBC.
Prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, John Sullivan served as the United States' representative in Moscow.
The former US ambassador is the one who discussed trying to avert a war with Russian officials, but "there was no engagement," he claimed.
While refusing to have a productive conversation about security for Ukraine, they demanded security guarantees for Russia. It was a charade that they never strayed from their talking points. " .
He responds that President Vladimir Putin "wasn't interested in negotiating before the war" when I inquire about whether the US should put more effort into maintaining those discussions in an effort to put an end to the conflict. He is still unwilling to negotiate.
Instead, the Biden administration—which itself has sent billions of dollars' worth of weapons to the nation—has concentrated on mobilizing support on a global scale for arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia.
In a speech on Tuesday, Mr. Putin reiterated his position that Russia, not Ukraine, was fighting for its very existence. He claimed that the West had started the war and was using Ukraine to try to inflict a "strategic defeat" on Moscow.
Mr. Sullivan claims that despite the failures of Moscow's self-declared special military operation, the Kremlin's initial stated objectives to "de-Nazify" and "demilitarize" Ukraine still stand. According to him, this means "overthrowing the Kyiv government and enslaving the Ukrainian people.".
This is a component of President Putin's plan to reunite the Russian peoples that were split apart when the Soviet Union fell.
Mr. Sullivan asserts that "he cannot have a democratically elected government in Kiev, especially one headed by President [Volodymyr] Zelensky.". Because he sees that government as a threat to Russia and his plans for a larger Russian state, he will never be content as long as it continues to exist. " .
What would it then take for Mr. Putin to end the war?
According to Mr. Sullivan, "He has to be convinced that he can't win.". He will keep betting until he is certain that there is no chance of him succeeding. I'm not sure how severe the setbacks on the battlefield have to be for him to get there, but he's not there yet. " .
The Russian president, according to Mr. Sullivan, has a long time horizon and "a vision for what he wants to accomplish that he will not readily surrender.".
But Mr. Sullivan doesn't think the Ukrainians will either, claiming that one of Mr. Putin's war's strategic failures was alienating the 44 million-strong Slavic nation.
He asserts that the Ukrainian people "won't forgive and forget.". "The Ukrainian people wouldn't let President Zelenksy end the war, give up territory, or really do anything other than surrender. " .
The US must be ready for a protracted conflict given the current military, political, and ideological impasse.
On the anniversary of the invasion, President Joe Biden paid a surprise visit to Kyiv to underscore America's commitment, but Mr. Sullivan does not anticipate an end to the conflict this year.
Beyond that, he says, "I don't know.". However, Mr. Putin is opposed to an off-ramp. This unique military operation will succeed in achieving its objectives. He frequently states that.