Ukraine-Russia war: The debate over whether to negotiate with Putin

Activists hold signs that say “no war, peace for Ukraine” and “stop the war,” London, UK, Feb. 26, 2022. Photo by Shutterstock.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a major foreign policy speech today, accusing “Western elites” of trying to dominate the world, and downplaying the threat of a nuclear strike on Ukraine.

Meanwhile, 30 progressive U.S. Representatives have called on the Biden administration to pursue direct negotiations with Russia to end the war in Ukraine. The letter received a lot of pushback, which has since been walked back by its author Pramila Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“What the United States and Russia need to be doing is talking about their strategic relationship, what's in bounds, what's out of bounds, how each side can achieve its core security interests here — without so threatening the other side that this escalates into a catastrophe that has nothing to do with Ukrainian territory,” says George Beebe, director of grand strategy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

He continues, “In fact, the question of delineating Ukraine's borders is not something that has to be addressed immediately, in order to contain the dangers of this war. So I think the sooner the better the states and Russia can be talking to each other about how to avoid escalation, the better off we'll all be. And if we can handle that problem, it will be that much easier over time to get at that very thorny issue of Ukrainian territory. But that's something that the Ukrainians absolutely have to be involved in negotiating.”

Beebe adds that the war in Ukraine is a tragedy for both Ukrainians and the rest of the world, and the longer it continues, the greater the dangers will be.

“I think it is very much in the interest of everybody, including of the United States, to try to bring this war to a resolution soon. The longer we postpone the kinds of diplomatic engagement that are necessary, the more difficult it's going to be.”



  • George Beebe - director of grand strategy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Medea Benjamin - cofounder of the peace activist organization CODEPINK, author of “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict”