If you want to hear a different perspective on the war in Ukraine, talk to Samuel Chalap. Chalap is a good-looking Russian analyst, 43 years old, with graying hair. rand corporation Corporation is a think tank that has been conducting research for the US military and other clients since the 1940s. In the self-restraining architectural spirit of many Washington institutions, it leased several floors of an office building in a shopping mall in Arlington, Virginia, not far from the Pentagon. There’s Macy’s and Bath and Body Works in the mall, which aren’t Chalap’s favorite places to hang out.
Chalap, who grew up in Manhattan, became interested in Russian literature in high school and then in Russian foreign policy while attending Amherst University. He has a Ph.D. He earned a PhD in political science at Oxford University and spent time in Moscow and Kiev working on his dissertation. In 2009, he started working at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C., where Russia had just fought a short but bitter war with Georgia, but the incoming Obama administration wanted to “reset” relations and Find common ground. Chalap supports this effort and writes papers attempting to think about progressive U.S. foreign policy in the post-Soviet world. But tensions with Russia continue to mount. After Russia annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014, Chalap teamed up with Harvard political scientist Timothy Colton to write a book on the background to the war called All Everyone Loses”. In their report, Chalap and Colton argue that the United States, Europe and Russia have combined to produce a “negative-sum” outcome in Ukraine. True, Russia is the aggressor, but the United States and Europe fueled the flames of conflict by demanding that Ukraine choose Russia or the West. In the end, everyone lost.
I first met Chalap in the summer of 2017, shortly after the book was published, amid the swirl of anger over Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Robert Mueller has been named Justice Department special counsel, Donald Trump has called the investigation a hoax, and Congress is passing a bipartisan sanctions bill targeting Russia. Chalap was as angry as others about the meddling, but he believed the sanctions proposed in the bill were a mistake. “The idea of a big stick in international relations is not just about beating other countries,” he told me at the time. “It’s about getting a better outcome.” He cited the longstanding sanctions on Iran, which ultimately forced Iran to the negotiating table and dramatically curtailed its nuclear program, as an example. He went on to say that was not the case with sanctions against Russia. “Sanctions are only effective in changing another country’s behavior if they can be revoked,” he said. “And, because of the measures in the current bill, it’s nearly impossible for any president to lift them.”
Over the next few years, as Russia became more and more a nerve-wracking topic in American politics, Chalap continued to travel to Russia, engaging with his Russian counterparts and finding ways to lower the temperature in relations between the two countries. Attending Valdai – where Vladimir Putin pretends to be a wise tsar at the annual conference interested in discussing international politics with professors – has caused some controversy. However, before the war began, Chalap attended meetings at every opportunity and even asked Putin a few times. “It’s my job to get to know these people, and I’ve gained first-hand access to them,” he said. “How can you understand a country if you don’t go and talk to the people involved in the decision-making?”
In the fall of 2021, Chalap and many in Washington, D.C., became concerned that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine.in a fragment Politico In November of that year, he urged the Biden administration to work with Kiev to make at least some nominal concessions to see if it could defuse the crisis.Two months later, as the crisis deepened, he wrote another article for the Financial Times.In this regard, he considers NATO It should be publicly announced that Ukraine is not seriously considered for membership.“NATO cannot and should not take directions from Russia,” Chalap wrote. “But Moscow’s inflammatory rhetoric should not divert attention from the fact that NATO is not prepared to offer Ukraine membership. If doing so can Avoid war why not find some way to say out loud what NATO officials would say behind closed doors[?]”
When I spoke to Chalap at this point, he freaked out. The deployment of Russian troops, their activities, the fact that blood was being sent to Russian camps: all this is not an act of military exercises. Even more worrisome was the tone of Russian diplomatic communications.Their demands – not just Ukraine’s pledge never to join NATO but there is also that NATO Withdrawing troops to where they were in 1997 — simply not realistic. “They asked the most powerful military alliance in the world to strip and run laps,” he said. “But they’re holding guns pointed at Ukraine’s head.” If there was an invasion, Chalap estimated it would be in late February.
In late January 2022, he co-authored an editorial foreign policy In it, he argued that launching anti-tank Javelin and anti-aircraft Stinger missiles into Ukraine would neither stop a Russian invasion nor have a meaningful impact on the military situation if it did. He again urged that diplomatic opportunities be given.
Then the war began. As it turns out, Chalape and his co-authors were right about Western weapons and deterrence — that while Russian troops had already sent javelins and stingers to Ukraine, Russian troops went in anyway. NATO nation – but the perception of its military use is misguided. The Russian Army used low-flying helicopters, which were vulnerable to Stinger fire, and sent armored vehicles, in a formidable column, to drive straight down the main road to Kiev, where they were destroyed. Subsequent research pointed to Russian carelessness, timely U.S. intelligence, and, most importantly, Ukrainian mobility and courage as major factors in Russia’s disastrous defeat in the first weeks of the war. But weapons help.
Still, for Chalap, the U.S. may also be trying to prevent the fight. In recent months, as the fighting has raged, he has become the most vocal voice in the U.S. foreign policy community, calling for some form of negotiation to end or freeze the conflict. In response, he has been called a mouthpiece of the Kremlin, Russia’s crutch and a traitor. Critics say he hasn’t changed his views in 15 years, despite changing circumstances. But he still continued to write and argue. “It’s a level five fire alarm,” he said. “Should I walk by the house? Because, as bad as it is, it could get worse.”
By far the most active phase of the negotiations to end the war occurred in the first two months of the war. During this period, there were numerous meetings between Russian and Ukrainian officials, notably in Turkey throughout March.At least one rumored proposal in these talks has Ukraine agreeing not to seek NATO Russia relinquishes all territories it occupies after February 23, 2022, in exchange for Russia’s membership. Accounts vary as to what happened next. It was unclear whether the shifting Russian delegation had Putin’s backing, or whether the West would be willing to provide the kind of security guarantees Ukraine seeks in lieu of Ukraine. NATO membership. Soon these questions become moot. On March 31, Russian troops withdrew from Butcha; Ukrainian soldiers entering the city discovered mass graves and learned that residents had been tortured and randomly shot. Flodomir Zelensky called what happened there a “war crime” and “genocide”. A visit to Kiev by then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in early April appeared to have strengthened Zelensky’s resolve. There have since been occasional attempts at negotiation and mediation, but it is clear that both sides want to see what they can gain by continuing the war.
In the spring and summer of 2022, Russia re-enters eastern Ukraine to try to gain ground in the Donbas region; it successfully razes and captures the large port city of Mariupol, connecting mainland Russia to the Crimea through occupied Ukrainian territory ya. In the autumn, the Ukrainian counteroffensive was successful beyond all expectations. Ukrainian troops defeated demoralized Russian troops in the Kharkov region; they also besieged the city of Kherson, forcing Russia to retreat. In winter, Russia made a comeback, occupying the small city of Bakhmut in the Donbass after causing tens of thousands of casualties. Earlier this summer, it was Ukraine’s turn to launch another counteroffensive. The operation is backed by well-known Western equipment and training, but so far it has not been as successful as it was last fall.
At some point, this counter-offensive will end. The next question will be whether the two sides are ready to negotiate. Russia has said for months that it wants to negotiate, but it is unclear whether it is ready to make any concessions. Most importantly, Russia has not given up on its claim to recognize territories it “pseudo-annexed” in September 2022, in the words of the International Crisis Group’s Olga Orlik. Ukraine says it needs to keep fighting to drive out the occupying forces and ensure Russia is no longer a threat to Ukraine.
The domestic debate in the United States has split into two distinct camps. On the one hand, there are people like Chalap — not many, at least in public — who think there might be a way to end the war early by freezing the conflict and trying to secure and rebuild large parts of the country. Ukraine not under Russian occupation. The other side believes that this is not the solution and that the war must continue until Putin is completely defeated and humiliated. As defense intellectual Eliot A. Cohen put it in May, Atlantic Organization: