The best end to the invasion of Ukraine that I could see would be mass-desertion of invading troops.  It involves the fewest casualties and has the least risk of nuclear retaliation.  And there's already hopeful signs -- abandoned equipment, rumors about inadequate preparation...

(And there's precedent.  In fact, last time a Russian army walked away from a battlefield en masse, they toppled the brutal oligarch who sent them there in the process.  Could be a bonus.  Or a risk.)

Are there any organizations one could support that are working to encourage this?  Promising funds to deserters trying to find new homes when this is over?  Making sure everyone in the Russian army knows about ways out?  Lobbying the EU to welcome these people?  Something else?

I don't think I have relevant skills, but I'd like to throw some money and publicity this way.




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Bryan Caplan had some interesting ideas about this. It seems right that safe passage to the EU would be essential.

The post you linked is interesting but omits one crucial consideration - most of Russian soldiers probably have their families back in Russia, and it's very likely that deserters' families would be harassed, given that there are already many human rights' violations going on there.

Case in point - - one of the Russian soldiers lost his legs in (peacetime) brutal hazing. His family was pressured with bribery to drop the charges against the army (they didn't). It's not hard to imagine similar, albeit brutal pressure put on families of deserters.

Interestingly, a quick calculation suggests that World War 2 had an economic cost per combatant approximately equal to what the Ukrainian government is offering to each Russian deserter ($50k).

My sense is that this approach hasn't been used much in the past, but I'm not sure why.

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If your primary concern was human suffering, and if you think the Russians will likely win the conflict, it seems that interventions that try to enhance resistance or weaken Russian efforts might be bad.


It seems good to be correctly informed about events. While I don't really know, here are two mainstream sources (or at least aligned with the American security/policy establishment) that seem to be giving an accurate overview of the military situation.

Immediate human suffering almost certainly gives way to larger geopolitical effects in moral weight. Weakening Russian efforts likely points in the direction of a lower chance of nuclear war, for example.

The increased chance of a nuclear war seems like an important and thoughtful consideration. I didn't see or consider this. Can you explain a bit more of this to me so I can understand?

There's also historical background or subtext that seem relevant for certain interventions and that I think back to, to understand American or European thought.

Another case I think back to is the Spanish civil war. 

One side, the Republications, was incredibly trendy and romanticized in the west, and enjoyed international volunteers and celebrities. A lot of world powers were involved, who provided and tested weapons that would be used later in WW2. 

In the end, the Francoist regime won, and in addition to the extreme violence during the war, for decades afterwards, Republican supporters suffered an incredibly bitter fate of impoverishment and repression.


The Ukraine conflict is very different but I think it gives caution to how outside powers, and western interest and facile romanticism can be problematic. 

It's unclear to what degree there was any underlying cause for the extreme prejudice and persecution committed by the Francoist regime. 

It seems possible this was greatly aggravated by the incredible violence of the war, which was a partially a proxy or showcase of outside powers. The suffering was immense and damage existed for decades afterwards.