The failure to prosecute American officials and other powerful nations for war crimes has created a jurisdictional mess.
It seems clear at this point that the Biden administration’s position is that increasing Ukraine’s military capacity is a win-win scenario: Even if Kyiv does not expel Moscow’s forces and retake of all of its territory — including Crimea — as Zelenskyy has stated is the central objective, the proxy war will nonetheless deliver a series of potent punches to the vital organs that constitute Vladimir Putin’s reign. Russia will continue to sacrifice the lives of its soldiers and deplete its economic and military capacity — and Putin will be weakened internally and internationally. The goal is that one way or another, Putin loses without having to sacrifice U.S. or NATO lives.
But what if none of that happens? What if Putin survives this brutal war with his grip on power intact? What if Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was right when he said last November that a Ukrainian victory “is maybe not achievable through military means”? What if Ukraine is forced to accept a negotiated solution where it formally concedes the loss of its territory? What type of accountability could then be brought to bear for Putin’s decision to invade a neighboring country?