Can Ukraine, Syria Impasses Drive U.S.-Russia ‘Grand Climb-Down’?

Can Ukraine, Syria Impasses Drive U.S.-Russia ‘Grand Climb-Down’?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Rome, Italy, Dec. 14, 2014 (State Department photo).

When diplomats want to explore a way out of a crisis, they like to talk about striking a “grand bargain” and try to avoid the word “climb-down,” which tends to imply an acknowledgement of failure or defeat. Nevertheless, Russia and the United States, trapped in costly confrontations over Syria and Ukraine, may need to agree to a sort of “grand climb-down” that allows the two powers to get out of unsustainable positions as painlessly as possible.

Moscow and Washington both begin 2015 stuck with the consequences of poor strategic bets.

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine now looks like a truly disastrous mistake, as Western sanctions and the collapse of the price of oil have converged to undermine its economy. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to spout defiance at the West, but some of his closest allies are urging compromise. At some point, Putin may have to choose between his global ambitions and his continued political survival. He is likely to plump for survival.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.