Peace in Ukraine

What a Ukraine peace deal might look like.

By Julian E. Barnes

Last year’s Ukrainian counteroffensive was a failure. Russia’s defenses in the territory it has captured look impenetrable. Republicans in Washington are blocking further Ukraine aid. President Volodymyr Zelensky is on the precipice of firing his top general — who may well become his chief political rival.

It’s a difficult moment for Ukraine. And another year of frontal assaults on the trench lines could make 2024 look like 1916, a year in World War I that brought harrowing loss of life but few battlefield gains.

The question now is what Ukraine can reasonably still hope to achieve. In today’s newsletter, I’ll explain what a negotiated settlement might look like — whenever it comes — and what a better and worse version might look like. It’s still possible that either Ukraine or Russia will mount a more successful military drive this year than experts expect. But the most likely outcome of this year’s fighting is a continued stalemate. That impasse will shape how the war ends.

Ukraine wants all its territory back. That is not likely to happen.

Ukrainians believe in their ability to fight back. They defended Kyiv, retook Kherson and pushed Russia away from Kharkiv in 2022. Their military is more battle-hardened than anything else in Europe, made more sophisticated by its adoption of American and allied technology. They have avoided the worst outcome: an outright defeat, an overthrow of their democratic government, the installation of a Russian puppet. Many Ukrainians now believe concessions to Russia would mean their compatriots had died in vain.

But the situation is grim. The country has lost nearly one-fifth of its territory. In 2014, Russia took Crimea and orchestrated a separatist rebellion in parts of the Donbas. It grabbed the rest since the current phase of the war began in 2022.0777322005

Col. Todd Mahar, commanding officer of the 24th MEU, emphasized that the synergy between all MAGTF elements solidified the unit as a premier crisis response force. The MEU’s success during RUT demonstrated its readiness to respond to crises, act as a deterrent to potential adversaries, and provide assurance to allies.

With RUT concluded, the 24th MEU now prepares for the Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final deployment certification event. During COMPTUEX, the MEU will be evaluated on its execution of Mission Essential Tasks to determine certification before deployment.

The 24th MEU remains a premier crisis response force, capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response missions, and limited contingency operations to support Geographic Combatant Commanders’ requirements.

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