Diplomacy and the Ukraine Crisis

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, many have been skeptical of the possibilities for diplomatic resolution, and the White House has repeatedly questioned whether diplomacy is possible given continued Russian aggression. At the same time, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has pointed to negotiations as critical, and Turkey and Israel have attempted to mediate the conflict. There have been reports of a Russian diplomatic offer of settlement in exchange for some combination of Ukrainian neutrality and concessions on Crimea and the Donbas, and President Zelenskyy has suggested that the Ukrainian government is willing to come to an agreement on neutrality if it is accompanied by security guarantees. But it is unclear what the practicable details of an agreement for Ukrainian neutrality and security would be, whether Ukraine is willing to compromise on sovereignty issues in Crimea and the Donbas, or whether these territorial issues could be “compartmentalized” and resolved diplomatically at a later date.  What is clear is that the alternative to a peace agreement is a protracted war, which will lead to immense suffering and losses for the people of Ukraine. The combination of the war with Western economic sanctions is also threatening global economic recession, radical increases in food prices, and potential political instability in countries that are dependent on wheat imports. All of these factors create a very strong incentive to pursue a diplomatic path to end the conflict. Join our expert panel to discuss possibilities of a peace agreement to end the war, featuring Gabrielle Rifkind, conflict mediator and director of Oxford Process, and Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute, will moderate.


Gabrielle Rifkind

Gabrielle Rifkind is the Director of Oxford Process. She is a group analyst, specialist in conflict resolution and an accredited mediator. Gabrielle combines in-depth political and psychological expertise with many years’ experience in promoting serious analysis and dialogue. Her focus of work over the past two decades has been the Iran nuclear issue, the proxy wars in Syria and the Palestine-Israel conflict. She has both facilitated meetings with and spent time talking to the leadership in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and ‘Western’ states. Gabrielle is an author and frequent contributor to the media, with over 50 publications nearly always from a conflict resolution perspective. She has written for various newspapers, online publications and academic journals.

Amb. Tom Pickering

Tom Pickering holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. He received the Distinguished Presidential Award and the Department of State’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, Tom was U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. He oversaw U.S. relations with Russia in the immediate post Soviet era, during 1993-1996. He was also U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations under President George H.W. Bush and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Bill Clinton. Tom is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and is active in a number of not-for-profit boards, including that of the Quincy Institute.

Samuel Charap

Samuel Charap is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research interests include the foreign policies of Russia and the former Soviet states; European and Eurasian regional security; and U.S.-Russia deterrence, strategic stability, and arms control. From November 2012 until April 2017, Charap was the senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Prior to joining the IISS, he served at the U.S. Department of State as senior advisor to the undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security and on the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, covering Russia and Eurasia. Charap's book on the Ukraine crisis, Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia (coauthored with Timothy Colton), was published in January 2017.

Anatol Lieven (Moderator)

Anatol Lieven is Senior Research Fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He was formerly a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and in the War Studies Department of King’s College London. He is a member of the advisory committee of the South Asia Department of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He holds a BA and PhD from Cambridge University in England. From 1985 to 1998, Lieven worked as a journalist in South Asia, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and covered the wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and the southern Caucasus. Lieven is author of several books on Russia and its neighbors including The Baltic Revolutions: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence (1993), Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power? (1998), and Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry (1999).