At some point, Putin will have to admit that 'special military operation' was a failure, Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
9 May, 2022

At some point, Russian President Vladimir Putin will have to admit that the 'special military operation' was a failure. Currently, there are two most discussed scenarios for ending the war against Ukraine, says John Herbst, Former US Ambassador to Ukraine and senior director of the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, in an interview with Hromadske.

"At some point, Putin (or the top leadership) will have to admit that this 'special military operation' was a failure, given the damage the war done to them and Russia. But unfortunately, when this happens, it will not necessarily mean that Russia will leave the whole territory of Ukraine. This will only mean agreeing to a ceasefire and a termination of 'military operation' on the scale we see now," says Herbst.

There is a risk that Russia will keep the territories it occupied before February 24. There are currently two most discussed scenarios for ending the war. The first is simply a ceasefire. Herbst notes that a regime of silence can start wherever the demarcation line passes at that time.

"This option will not force Moscow to admit that it was wrong, but at the same time, it will probably mean that all sanctions imposed on Russia remain in force, and this is very unprofitable for Russia," says Herbst.

The second scenario is the real end of the war, the cessation of all offensive operations, and the withdrawal of Russian troops from all over Ukraine. The only exception may be Crimea (decisions on this may be made later).

"This will require a significant easing, if not lifting, of most sanctions. Then, Russia will only need to acknowledge that the invasion was a catastrophe for Russia," Herbst said.

On February 24, Russia launched a full-scale armed invasion of Ukraine, but Putin still calls the war a 'special military operation.' At first, Russia tried to capture Kyiv and the northern part of Ukraine but was defeated. Then Russian troops focused their main forces on the capture of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson Oblasts.