A negotiated end
Sir: Owen Matthews’s piece hinted at the likely outcome of the Ukraine conflict, but his conclusion was too pessimistic (‘Spring loaded’, 4 February). It seems probable that the war in Ukraine will drag on without a decisive conclusion and that there will not only be disagreement among Nato members about supplying further arms, but that other governments will get tired of it. The only way to stop it will, therefore, be by negotiation. Given that the most successful negotiated settlements end with all sides being reasonably satisfied with the outcome, Russia, Ukraine, Nato and the EU will have to make compromises. Ukraine will have to agree to cede Crimea, and the Donbas too. This will be a tough sell for Zelensky, but one that would be made politically easier by Ukraine being accepted into the EU and Nato on an accelerated programme.
The advantage to Ukraine is obvious. A treaty that defined the border between Ukraine and Russia would, at the very least, deter further Russian incursions, assuming that even Putin would not wish to take on Nato. Nato would secure its eastern border, and be able to reduce defence expenditure. For the EU the benefit would be a vast country as a new member with an educated and entrepreneurial population, replete with resources. European business would have a great new market to replace sanctioned Russia. What’s not to like? I wouldn’t wish to be a member of the team having to negotiate all that; but nonetheless it would be well worth the effort.
Mark St Giles
West Lydford, Somerset
Sir: Martin Vander Weyer is, as usual, right when he states that ‘every town still needs at least one high-street bank’ (Any other business, 4 February). In Australia one way is found through the Bendigo community banks, funded by local shareholders like my husband and me when we lived in the Windsor suburb of Melbourne.