Americans relate to the Ukrainians’ passion to control their own lives. Of course, self-determination is not just an American or Ukrainian desire. It is a universal need for all people. However, when it comes to a democratic form of government there is an interesting historical tradition shared by Americans and Ukrainians.
We Americans rightly point to our Constitution that took effect in 1789 as a shining example of how a country’s government can be held in check as individual liberties are protected. However, in 1710 Ukrainian Philip Orlyk wrote and published a proposed constitution that called for a government designed to have three competing branches, Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Our American constitution was drafted principally by James Madison and was based mainly on the theories of French legal philosophers Montesquieu and Voltaire and the English legal philosopher John Locke along with legal theories underlying The Enlightenment. All of these thinkers did their work after Orlyk had published his constitution based on a democratic system of self-government.
Orlyk’s constitution was never put into operation. But the strong democratic ideals of the Ukrainian people were a part of what the German legal philosopher Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779-1861) would have described as the Ukrainian nation’s Volksgeist. Volksgeist is the inherent common spirit of a particular culture, in this case Ukraine.
When we are amazed that the Ukrainians are so vigorously and courageously opposing aggression from the third most powerful military on earth we can look to their spirit, their Volksgeist of democracy. This deep passion for self-determination when coupled with the natural advantages of fighting for their homeland have allowed the Ukrainians to stand up strongly against the great Russian bear. Will they win, yes, because they already have. Much of the world is on their side and is supporting them. Will Russia eventually gain physical control of Ukraine? Maybe, but emotional control over the hearts and minds of the Ukrainians, probably not.
How will this war reach what in mediation is called a quiescent state? There are many possibilities. In the long run the outcome is a subject of pure speculation. But in the short run a few things can be suggested. In all negotiations each side has their dream outcomes and each has what they eventually will accept. Russia probably hoped for total capitulation by Ukraine and Ukraine probably hopes for surrender by Russia. Neither outcome is likely.
Should total victory be beyond either country’s grasp, Ukraine may settle for sovereignty of all Ukrainian territory west of Russia including free access to the Dnieper River from the Black Sea plus sovereignty over the port of Odessa. Whereas Ukraine may want and may deserve reparations of billions of dollars from Russia, Russia cannot provide for itself much less re-build Ukraine. Ukraine will look to America and others such as Germany, France, Canada and Great Britain for economic aid.
Russia may be eager to get out of the quagmire it has blundered into if Ukraine concedes Crimea, already a fait accompli, and any port on the Black Sea or the Azov Sea excluding Odessa. Russia would have to sign a treaty that promises no future incursions into Ukraine and no interference with the Port of Odessa or use of the Dnieper River. Ukraine would have to sign a treaty that binds itself to not seek or accept NATO membership as long as Russia abides by the peace treaty. Of course, there are thousands of other possible significant concerns both countries may wish to have go their way. But peace requires sacrifice.