Julia Strasheim

Why Do Warring Parties Enter Negotiations during an Ongoing War?: Insights from the 2022 Ukraine–Russia Talks

Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung | 2023

  • Abstract

    Why do warring parties enter negotiations during an ongoing war? This article builds on previous scholarship that has argued that the onset of wartime negotiations does not always exclusively represent a genuine will by belligerents to arrive at a settlement, but that alternative motives may also drive their decision to negotiate. The article identifies and distinguishes four alternative political and military motives and argues that belligerents may come to the table at times when they need to establish their status vis-à-vis an opponent, establish or safeguard domestic as well as external support, or when they need to buy time if they can no longer uphold levels of violence on the battlefield. This article examines the utility of this argument for the early round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations, which took place during Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine in February and March 2022. Triangulating information from semi-structured interviews with country experts, case studies, news sources, and statements by the warring parties, the analysis particularly underlines findings put forward by past research on the costs of war as a determinant for entering talks and shows that entering talks helped Ukraine’s government establish agency and status as a bargaining partner while also serving its broader strategic communication with external actors. There is no evidence, however, supporting proposed mechanisms on belligerents coming to the table in order to establish domestic political support or buy time on the battlefield for the case under analysis.

    Research Programmes


    Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung

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