The war in Ukraine
When and how might the fighting end?
Western allies are starting to split over the end day though neither side seems ready to stop fighting.
The war in Ukraine, says its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, will be won on the battlefield but can end only through negotiations.
When to stop fighting, and on what terms?
The West says that is for Ukraine to decide.
Yet three months into the war, Western countries are staking out positions on the endgame.
They are splitting into two broad camps, explains Ivan Krastev, of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, a think-tank in Sofia.
One is the “peace party”, which wants a halt to the fighting and the start of negotiations as soon as possible.
The other is the “justice party”, which thinks Russia must be made to pay dearly for its aggression.
The argument turns in the first instance on territory: let Russia hold on to the land it has conquered thus far; push it back to its starting line on February 24th; or try to shove it even farther back, to the international border, to recover territories it seized in 2014?
The debate revolves around much else besides, not least the costs, risks and rewards of prolonging the war; and the place of Russia in the European order.
The peace camp is mobilising.
Germany has called for a ceasefire; Italy is circulating a four-track plan for a political settlement; France speaks of a future peace deal without “humiliation” for Russia.
Ranged against them stand mainly Poland and the Baltic states, championed by Britain.
What of America?
Ukraine’s most important backer has yet to set out a clear objective, beyond strengthening Ukraine to give it a stronger bargaining hand.
America has spent nearly $14bn on the war so far, and Congress has just allocated a further $40bn.
America has rallied military donations from more than 40 other countries.
But this help is not unlimited.
It has delivered artillery, but not the longer-range rocket systems that Ukraine is asking for.
Remarks by Lloyd Austin, America’s defence secretary, add to the ambiguity.
After visiting Kyiv last month he embraced the justice party, saying the West should help Ukraine “win” and “weaken” Russia.
Three weeks later he seemed to tack to the peace camp, calling for an “immediate ceasefire” following a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.
The Pentagon insists there is no change of policy.
Another blow to the justice party was an editorial in the New York Times arguing that the defeat of Russia was unrealistic and dangerous.
Then Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state, said negotiations should start within two months to avoid “upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome”.