The failure, between Kyiv and its transatlantic allies, to articulate a shared vision for victory in Ukraine raises the prospect — and danger — of a peace deal brokered by, of all countries, Communist China. Despite billions spent on military aid over the past two years, Ukraine’s inability to expel the Russian invaders suggests calls are likely to grow for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Absent a Ukrainian victory, though, what would there be to negotiate? President Zelensky’s proposed peace plan includes among its provisions the ouster of all Russian troops from Ukraine and a return to its 1991 borders. The terms are understandable and have garnered some backing. Yet Ukraine’s ability to achieve this goal militarily is in doubt. This opens the door to calls, in the West and elsewhere, to treat with Moscow. 

Meanwhile, China has a plan. Naturally, it has been endorsed by Moscow as the most sensible thus far. The 12-point blueprint, unveiled last February, borrows from Beijing’s Global Security Initiative that aims to “transcend Western geopolitical security theory” to establish a “common security.” It pays lip service to notions of sovereignty, territorial integrity, the security concerns of all, and calls for an end to unilateral sanctions.