Sacrificing Ukraine to avoid greater conflict. How does the lamb feel?

by Bob Schwartz

The West is sacrificing Ukraine to avoid escalation and broadening conflict. Which is not an unworthy goal.

But if the goal is clear—Western leaders stressing the imminence of World War III—the price, the sacrifice, is not always so boldly and loudly articulated. What I call the Morning After.

We don’t know when the Morning After in Ukraine arrives or exactly what it looks like. The world is uplifted, and Putin appears to be surprised, by the resistance. It is floated that even when the Russians succeed in their occupation, resistance will continue, making it painful for Putin to keep hold of Ukraine, just as the sanctions have made it painful.

Painful as it may be to Russia, it will take and keep hold of Ukraine. It will continue to pursue deadly, frightening and inhumane means to succeed. Maybe Putin will use Ukraine as a bargaining chip, which bargains the West will categorically refuse. Or maybe Putin will just revel in having won a big victory, expanding the Russian footprint by adding (in his view taking back) Europe’s biggest territory. Millions of Ukrainians will be refugees, millions more will be terrified, thousands will be dead and injured, and cities will be devastated and demolished. With Putin as leader and his puppets in place.

Maybe that won’t be the Morning After. Maybe the internal resistance and external sanctions and isolation will convince Putin to withdraw. But don’t bet on it. And if that is roughly the Morning After, what will the conversations be like? Will the Western leaders ruefully agree that it tragically had to be this way so that the worse—the worst—could be avoided? Will Ukrainians feel honored to have been the sacrifice that possibly prevented World War III? How does the lamb feel?