Time and again, the New York Times editorial board has urged Israel to make territorial concessions to its enemies in exchange for peace, and has cautioned against excessive support for America’s most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Thus, perhaps, it should not be surprising that on May 19 the Times published an editorial expressing concern that Washington might have become too supportive of Ukraine, that Ukrainians might commit to winning their war with Russia, and that they might try to take back territories Moscow seized in 2014. The editors of the Kyiv Independent don’t find these arguments persuasive:
Any concession to Russia now will lead to another war sooner or later, while Ukrainians stuck in any region occupied by Russia will be tortured, raped, or killed. The New York Times is running story after story about the living hell through which Russia puts Ukrainian civilians in occupied territories. Meanwhile, its editorial board is suggesting that Ukraine should cede territories to Russia, where more atrocities will undoubtedly happen.
Appeasement isn’t the voice of reason. It’s fear and short-sightedness that will only make things worse, something we’ve all seen too many times in the past. Allowing Russia to annex Crimea emboldened Russia to try to swallow the Donbas. When it invaded in 2014, carving up a sovereign state and killing civilians, the other world leaders’ tepid response made Russia’s bloody dictator feel empowered to do more.
Even President Volodymyr Zelensky, however popular he is now, wouldn’t be able to persuade Ukrainians to concede. According to a recent poll by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, 82 percent of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine should not give up territory for peace under any circumstances.
After seeing the atrocities committed by Russian troops in Borodyanka, Bucha, and Mariupol, the Ukrainian people see very clearly that this is a war for survival against a fascist regime that denies Ukrainians the right to exist. Concessions would be a swift death sentence for thousands of Ukrainians. This fact apparently escapes the New York Times editorial board.
It’s a deal that shouldn’t be taken. Nor are we forced to take it.