News Release

Former Negotiator on How the Ukraine War Should End



Quigley was the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe expert on Crimea 1994-95. A specialist in international law, he is professor emeritus at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Quigley’s books include The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II.

He just wrote the piece “I led talks on Donbas and Crimea in the 90s. Here’s how the war should end” for Responsible Statecraft.

He said today: “Now, if Ukraine does anything even close to implementing the Minsk agreement, Russia could say that the aim of its invasion has been accomplished. Any potential deal could be sweetened for Russia if Ukraine were to show flexibility on the status of Crimea. Russia would likely find some relief if then the West backed off pressuring it to return Crimea to Ukraine. President Zelensky has already floated the possibility that the two sides could arrange a process of discussion about Crimea, a process that he said could last 15 years.

“For Ukraine, political reality comes into play. Ukraine is unlikely to get Crimea back, no matter how Russia’s war plays out. Ukrainians do not have the attachment that Russians have towards Crimea. A Crimea under Russia may be better for long-term stability.

“As for the Donbas, it would not be difficult for Ukraine to offer more autonomy than it has to date. The Russian military assault seems to have pushed many Russian speakers in the Donbas to embrace Ukraine. They may be less demanding on autonomy than before. A renewed Ukrainian commitment on autonomy could be framed by the Russian government as a victory.”

Quigley notes however that the Biden administration “has framed the conflict in apocalyptic terms as a battle between democracy and authoritarianism. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s claim that the West is viewing the conflict as a proxy war against Russia cannot be lightly dismissed. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has set a long-term aim of weakening Russia. It’s reasonable to question whether the U.S. goal is less to force Russia out of Ukraine than to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.”