The war in Ukraine is now beginning to look like the cruel, and bloody three-year standoff that gripped the Korean peninsula 70 years ago. The Korean peninsula had been ‘temporarily’ partitioned as part of the surrender of Japanese territories at the end of World War II. Russia was awarded administrative control of the North. The USA administered the South. Neither could agree on the location of the capital city of a unified country. The USA unilaterally named Seoul as the official capital. Russia followed by declaring Pyongyang as the capital. The United Nations backed the USA. North Korean troops supported by Russian arms crossed the 38th parallel. UN-backed troops intervened to prevent the overtaking of South Korea by the North. Chinese Army troops joined the battle in support of North Korea. After a two-year military stalemate, a truce was reached with the reinstatement of the 38th parallel separating the North and South. The peninsula remains partitioned and militarily unsettled.
With the upcoming US presidential election and a winter fighting stalemate quickly approaching, the possibility that a Korea-style truce between NATO and Russia, with Ukraine as the buffer pawn, is becoming a real possibility
At this juncture, the American public is in no mood to enter into another prolonged military standoff. They can be expected to remain engaged and would back a Marshall Plan type of Ukraine reconstruction — but the unreliable pestilential influence of Donald Trump and his claim that he can end the war unilaterally in 24 hours will resonate with too many Americans to be ignored.
Ukraine is fortunate in one respect. The country has a Churchillian president, a well-funded national government and an effectively equipped military force. Tragically, the Stalin-inspired Russian invasion has utterly destroyed many cities, towns and farmlands. Recovery and reconstruction will take years.
So while the central government is competent and intact, many core functions of an independent multi-city state have been decimated. By this I mean not only the utter destruction of physical infrastructures and residential communities but the ability of the country to provide for the majority of its citizens intact systems of education, domestic manufacturing, agricultural productivity and transportation capable of both getting its exports to market and internally distribute goods and services to where they are needed
Furthermore, Eastern Ukraine has a significant Russian-oriented culture and Russian language speaking population that needs to be convinced that a European-oriented central government is worthy of its loyalty and support. Russian-funded Ukrainian IRA-like organizations will seek partitioning of the country as a basis for a lasting truce. If Trump becomes the American president, that will happen.
At this juncture, regardless of who will be the next American president, Washington would certainly agree to continue to sell Yankee military equipment to its NATO partners so that they can act as ‘middlemen’ in supplying Ukraine with its armament needs.
NATO should plan to negotiate with the USA a formal lend-lease agreement for military equipment if Ukraine is to survive. Just don’t expect Canada to pull its weight unless Québec Premier François Legault agrees.