With the release of Brittney Griner after ten months of captivity, President Biden might have opened a channel to finally make Peace between Russia and Ukraine. As Michael Shear and Peter Baker put it, “The release of Ms. Griner who turned 32 while in custody was a rare bright spot in the confrontation between Mr. Biden and Vladimir V. Putin, the President of Russia, over Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.”
This is indeed one of those opportunities that don’t come along that often to press for a deal. As the harsh winter descends upon Europe it is imperative for President Biden to act as quickly as possible to bring the parties together and come up with an agreement.
This should be his number one priority right now. The trade for Griner is a good starting point. Putin might be playing his war games but it might also be that he too is looking for an opening. He clearly miscalculated Zelensky and the West. He thought he would have a cakewalk into Ukraine. He even is now admitting that the war “ might be a long process”.
There are indications that he well may have lost 100,000 soldiers thus far. In a previous article I mentioned that in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 the Russians lost 60,000 troops (in modern terms this would be many more) and President Theodore Roosevelt made Peace in that conflict in the Treaty of Portsmouth. It was hashed out over 24 days in Kittery, Maine.
If Peace is not achieved now, the prospects for a protracted war increase exponentially. Europe will suffer a worsening economic crisis. People will die from lack of heating oil and starvation. This will not only happen in Ukraine but throughout Europe. Russia is clearly using this as a tactic and leverage to inflict maximal damage. America will suffer collaterally economically.
In addition, the Hudson Institute reports that Russia may bring Belarus directly into the war to open a northern front to Kyiv. 15 Russian Tor-M2 low to medium altitude air defense systems have been deployed in Belarus. MIG-31 interceptor aircraft were placed in Belarus in October.
These aircraft are capable of carrying Kinzhal missiles which are ballistic missiles with dual use conventional and nuclear delivery capability. This may be Putin’s form of nuclear brinkmanship that he has used in the past. But Putin has moved quite a few troops into Belarus and is pressuring Belarus’ military to join him in the fighting against Ukraine. If he indeed attacks from Belarus he will stretch the Ukrainians and threaten the capital, Kyiv.
All of this will not only prolong the war but lead to further escalation. President Biden has his hands full but if he cannot hammer out an end to the war soon the picture looks quite bleak.