A Way Out for Ukraine and Russia

As many observers have been writing from the start of this conflict, there was never a chance of the Ukrainian government being able to win militarily. ...For the West to encourage Kiev to seek a military victory as its governments seem to have been doing could only lead to inevitable defeat. If confirmed, the reported Ukrainian moves toward an agreement with Moscow on a cease-fire with the rebels are a logical step.
As Thomas Graham of Kissinger Associates has written, Russia cares about what happens in Ukraine much more than the West does for reasons which should be apparent to anyone who has spent 10 minutes studying Russian and Ukrainian history.

At the same time, the Kremlin remains relatively cautious were it not so, the Russian Army would be in Kharkov and Odessa by now. Moscow did nothing after the crackdown on pro-Russian demonstrators elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine (including the killing of more than 40 in Odessa) and accepted control of those areas by Kiev.

Moscow also accepted as legitimate the election of Petro Poroshenko as president, abandoning its support for former President Viktor Yanukovych. It should be recognized therefore that in seeking de jure control of Crimea and decisive informal influence over the Donbass region, the Kremlin has drastically scaled back its hopes from where they stood a year ago, when Moscow wanted to bring the whole of Ukraine into a Russian-dominated bloc, and even from its initial response to the revolt in Kiev. This allows the possibility of a political solution, which can only consist of a special autonomous status for the Donbass region within Ukraine.

The West should take advantage of any cease-fire efforts to craft and strongly advocate this solution, and should then negotiate the precise terms with Kiev and Moscow. Legally and morally, there can be no Western objection to this it is after all the solution that the West has put forward to end conflicts in many parts of the world. ... This solution corresponds to history and local reality; for the Donbass is in fact a region with its own culture and traditions.

The way out of this disaster is obvious if only Western governments have the statesmanship and courage to take it.