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The most obvious aspect of the Ukraine war just now is that it should end immediately, or as early as possible. If this lingers on, possibilities of new ways of spreading conflict can emerge. This has to be checked. This war and its violence should not spread.

If all sides see reason, clearly it is possible for the conflict to cease very quickly. But there is this big ‘If’, which applies to all sides.

Putin and his colleagues should realize, even if belatedly, that invasion was not the best course of action for them even in limited terms of protecting their narrow security concerns. Russia’s concerns for protecting its essential security interests had more world-level sympathy and support, stated and unstated, than these have now after the invasion. With more violence and deaths, which is bound to be reported in highly exaggerated ways in most influentual sections of world media, world sympathy and support for Russia’s invasion will decrease further. Hence taking a wider view of its own self-interest, Russia should be looking for ending the conflict as soon as possible, taking care to avoid prolonging and spreading it, acting with restraint and avoiding altogther the arrogance that comes with military might.

However even if Russia rather belatedly agrees to adopt such an enlighted attitude and tries to end the conflict very quickly, there remains the no less important question of whether the USA and NATO will facilitate or hinder such a conduct of restraint on the part of their adversary. One hopes for the sake of peace and sanity that they will facilitate a policy of restraint. But taking a real world view, this hope may not be fulfilled, as dominance and aggressive pursuit of narrowly perceived self-interest rather than world peace are likely to be the motivating force of USA and NATO policy, in keeping with past trends.

In fact USA and NATO policy towards Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union has never been one of peace towards Russia and accommodating its legtimate security and other interests. Rather it has been one of always creaing new problems and worries for Russia. One of the important planks of this policy has been to intervene in the affairs of countries bordering Russia in such a way as to increase the inroads of NATO and USA and to make Russia feel more and more insecure. It is the relentless pursuit of this policy by the USA and NATO over the years which has played an important role in creating the present crisis, although of course Russia too shares a big part of the blame for accentuating the crisis with its invasion, not exploring fully the potential of a dilomatic and non-violent response.

If the USA and NATO persist with their policy of only trying to increase problems of Russia, they can do this in various ways. For example, even if Russia takes immediate steps to end the invasion by reaching some sort of agreement with  Ukraine,  the more aggressive and persistent opponents of Russia can be sheltered in a neighboring country and armed to harm Russia in various ways. Following the pattern under which militants were collected from several countries to attack Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the neo-Nazi militants of not just Ukraine but perhaps even some other countries can be mobilized to harm Russia, leading to a perpetual source of conflict escalation for years in a volatile part of the world.

So it is time for both the big powers to restrain and recede, allowing the people of Ukraine to live in peace. They should both respect the rights of Ukraine to have peace and democracy on their own terms without undue interference from big powers. Let the people of Ukraine have a democracy and a government which is dominated neither by the USA not by Russia but instead is guided only by the welfare of its own people. But for this to happen first the conflict and violence should stop. Both Russia and the USA should accept this.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril, Earth Without Boundaries and India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food (2022). He has written consistently from perspective of peace, environment protection and justice for five decades. Web-site bharatdogra.in


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