This is part 3 in a 6-part exchange between Konstantin Kisin and myself. I will be writing parts 1, 3 and 5; Konstantin will be writing parts 2, 4 and 6. The subject of our exchange is whether the West is following the right strategy in Ukraine. Konstantin and I have previously discussed the issue on my podcast, as well as on Twitter. We are now doing so via this Substack exchange.
Konstantin: Thanks for your reply. There are more areas of agreement than I had expected too. I think the most significant are: we both believe the war could have been prevented; and we both believe Ukraine may have to give up Crimea and the Donbas as part of a final settlement. However, there are also areas of disagreement, which I would like to address here.
The first concerns how the war might have been prevented: I believe diplomacy could have worked; you believe deterrence could have worked.
Before explaining why I’m sceptical that deterrence could have worked, I would briefly note that Mearsheimer is not the only political scientist who has characterised the “Revolution of Dignity” as a coup. In his book Ukraine Over the Edge, Gordon Hahn refers to the “coup d’etat”, while in a study presented at this year’s APSA conference, Ivan Katchanovski argues the event “fits definitions of a coup”.