The “Unwinnable War”
Last week, the UN secretary-general António Guterres said that the Ukraine war is “….unwinnable” and this is true but sadly, there seems to be no letup in the war, not yet.
In the meantime, Russia’s relentless bombing has reduced Ukraine into a pile of rubbles and turned Ukraine into a non-functioning state!
On the other hand, Russia’s initial expectations that Ukraine would be cowed by the show of its military might does not seem have quite worked. Thanks to US/NATO’s generous arming of the Ukrainian resistance forces and the stiff resistance from the Ukrainians, Russia’s accomplishments in the battlefield have been less than what they hoped for.
Furthermore, harsh EU/US sanctions have significantly reduced Russia’s capacity to sustain the war, and should this war prolong, Putin’s own survival may be in question.
At the same time, it is also true that Russia’s capacity to continue the war far outmatches Ukraine’s capacity – notwithstanding generous NATO arms supply – to sustain the resistance.
Either way, there is no alternative to cessation of violence and promotion of lasting peace.
The good news is that there are signs that both sides are exhausted and are ready to talk.
While the quest for peace in Ukraine proceeds, it may be worth several interesting behaviour and developments outside Ukraine, that are important and have ramifications for the future of peace, not just in Ukraine but in the world.
The War Mongering Media
Ukraine war has revealed a rather disturbing aspect of the media and manner of their reporting. It seems that the media, especially the media in the West have turned themselves into a propaganda pro NATO/US institution and are playing somewhat of a sinister role in hyping the war!
From the onset of this war, the media especially those in the US and UK have been filling the TV screens and print pages with unsubstantiated fake news and with distorted analyses that have made the atmosphere so toxic that these alarmed the Pentagon to take urgent steps to warn Biden Administration of the danger of media’s “unrelenting” and “reckless” anti-Russia and anti-Putin tirade.
Pentagon feared that the hype threatened to push US/NATO into a war with Russia and by extension, plunge the world into the third world war.
It is somewhat paradoxical that until now people would lie, and media would unmask their lies. Ukraine war seems to have changed the theory – these days media lies and people try and unmask them.
Shifts in International Relations
Ukraine war has also revealed several noticeable shifts at global level. It is important to understand and appreciate these shifts to help proper contextualisation of the emerging world order, international mood and peace.
For example, at the March 2, 2022 UN General Assembly Special Session on Ukraine, while NATO/US and their allies voted ‘Yes’ and condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and endorsed the Ukraine Resolution, several major Asian (China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran for example), African (Kenya, Nigeria etc.) and Latin American (Venezuela, Nicaragua etc.) countries who are either current and/or recent victims of West’s illegal wars and sufferers of their punitive actions have been less enthusiastic. These countries have voted either ‘No’ or ‘Abstained’, conveying in the wake, their mixed feelings towards West’s “outrage” at Russia, as “hypocritical” and their “…recourse to the UN, a matter of expedience not principle.”
Furthermore, through their No/Abstained voting these countries may have also delivered another important message, something that Nelson Mandela once alluded to, which is that “Why should America’s enemy be my enemy?”
Another interesting thing to take note of is Mr. Zelensky’s recent zoom speeches at different parliaments of the world where appealed for help and asked for condemnation of the Russia’s invitation.
Mr. Zelensky is obviously desperate and doing everything he can, to push back the Russians and bring peace to Ukraine. However, there is something quite these speeches – choice of parliaments of his zoom speeches (in reality, countries that Zelensky), also revealed the evolving global divide. The countries that Mr. Zelensky reached out to include the hegemonic nexus that waged similar brutal illegal wars in recent past and the countries he did not reach out or not been invited to, are mostly non-European countriesand together, they constitute more than two/third of the world population – yet another stark example of the divided mood at the international level.
These shifts at the international level, indicate that the post WWII Anglo/Saxon Hegemonic world order may be unravelling, and that the world is transiting from a unipolar to a multipolar world where there are now multiple sub-systems that countries can tap on and benefit from. As a result, it is also obvious that the US/NATO sanctions on Russia are proving to be not as potent as these once used to be.
In addition, it is worth noting that in a globalized market-economic system, sanction-induced punitive actions that contribute to market disruptions eventually affect everyone, implying that in an economically integrated world order, sanctions are somewhat of a lose-lose tool.
These lessons in evolving international relations and changing moods reveal several hard truths – that people are tired of taking sides; that in the emerging multipolar world people have choices; and that people are less intimidated by the Anglo-Saxon supremacist bullying; and finally, that in a globalized world, sanctions disrupt market and harm all.
These developments are also signs that time is ripe to abandon old mindsets of exceptionalism and seek newer and fairer ways to organize the world.
Back to Ukraine. It is important that search for an immediate and enduring peace in Ukraine is made the priority and at the same time, due attention must also be paid to ensure that the peace is sought not just in Ukraine but in the world. The question is, how?
Cessation of violence in Ukraine
Among other things, an amicable settlement of the Ukraine crisis must consider two interconnecting factors – firstly and more broadly, the terms that satisfy both Russians and the Ukranians; and secondly, the negotiating parameters that NATO/US – Ukraine’s external guardians – allow Ukraine to play with; and finally, and this is key, NATO/US treatment of Russia and Putin.
Given Europe’s/US’ dismal track record in honouring promises, in this case, their promise of NATO’s eastward non-expansion which has since been flouted, Russia especially Mr. Putin does not trust neither Europe nor US. Therefore, trust building between NATO/US and Russia is key to peace negotiation.
Furthermore, Russians also believe and with justification that instead of treating Russia as an ‘equal partner’ in international affairs, West especially US have ignored and sidelined Russia and treated Russia with disdain and at times, patronisingly. Over the years such disparaging behaviour has deepened distrust and hurt Russia’s pride, fomenting nationalism that has since produced ultra-nationalist and ultra-assertive leaders such as Putin.
Ukraine peace talks must therefore, factor these in. Europe must do its utmost to build trust with Russia and treat Russia with respect and more importantly, and regardless of how much they hate Putin, engage the Russian leader with dignity, deserving of a head of state. More importantly, US/NATO must make sure to avoid guffaws such as the one made – consciously or otherwise- by the US President Biden in Poland recently.
A week or so ago in Poland in a speech, Mr. Biden departed from his pre-prepared script and dropped this unscripted bombshell that “For God’s sake…this man [Putin] cannot remain in power.”
This nearly terminated prospects of all peace negotiations. Thankfully, White House officials were quick to “…assure the world that Biden didn’t mean what he said” and that “….we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter.”
Make no mistake that in any peace negotiation treating Russia and Putin disrespectfully and disparagingly is a no-go area.
Peace negotiations with Russia must address Russia’s concerns sensitively and treat Russia’s leader Putin, with dignity and diligence.
Ukrainian President Mr. Zelensky’s recent statement that he is willing to “compromise” meaning that he is ready to accommodate Russia’s concerns in a peace deal, is a welcome sign.
Hopefully, Mr. Zelensky’s backers, NATO/US, would pay heed to his flexible approach and allow the peace talks to conclude amicably.
For Enduring Peace, “Beyond the fight, lies the greater fight
Sometime, out of a gloom, comes a glimmer of hope. In some way, Ukraine war may have helped us to dig deep and see things clearer especially the evolving global dynamics. Hopefully these insights would help us to approach the agenda of peace and work for a better world, more pragmatically!
For example, the Ukraine war that has given the Europeans the rare opportunity to experience firsthand, an illegal war on their own soil, a war that has been executed by one of their own and a war that has had horrific consequences on the people, this time on their own may have helped sensitizing them to appreciate better the horrific human costs and moral depravity of such wars and appreciate that illegal wars have no winners except few individuals who promote these but never physically join and let others fight their immoral wars and die, on their behalf.
Thus, time is ripe for the world and most importantly, for the Europeans who always seem to get hooked into illegal wars, to gaze beyond Ukraine and work out and agree on provisions that help preventing such wars in future.
It is rather fortuitous that the Ukraine peace talks are taking place in Istanbul, Turkey where the Ottoman Sultans -Turkish kings – known to have often said that “Beyond the fight, lies the greater fight — the struggle to build an enduring peace.”
Istanbul peace talks have indeed offered a unique opportunity to go beyond Ukraine and fight the “greater fight” and work out policies and institutional arrangements that prevent illegal wars and promote a rule-based global governance architecture, that ensures “enduring peace.”
- Adil Khan is a former senior policy manager of the United Nations
 The latest news is that Ukraine and Russia have meet and discussing peace in Istanbul, Turkey
 Excerpted from: https://www.ft.com/content/567107fa-2760-452b-8452-e656ca5ca478?shareType=nongift&fbclid=IwAR1A1Z-gEbIONBhlJlwd357MEk9F-8arEDDy7A_GRYQUVIr0nlFhLhRYJSo