Cover: The Talks That Could Have Ended the War in Ukraine

The Talks That Could Have Ended the War in Ukraine

A Hidden History of Diplomacy That Came Up Short—but Holds Lessons for Future Negotiations

Published in: Foreign Affairs website (2024)

Posted on Apr 18, 2024

by Samuel Charap, Sergey Radchenko

In the early hours of February 24, 2022, the Russian air force struck targets across Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow's infantry and armor poured into the country from the north, east, and south. In the days that followed, the Russians attempted to encircle Kyiv. These were the first days and weeks of an invasion that could well have resulted in Ukraine's defeat and subjugation by Russia. In retrospect, it seems almost miraculous that it did not. What happened on the battlefield is relatively well understood. What is less understood is the simultaneous intense diplomacy involving Moscow, Kyiv, and a host of other actors, which could have resulted in a settlement just weeks after the war began.

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.