With the passage of time, not only has distress and destruction associated with the Ukraine war increased, in addition the possibility of peace has become more distant and difficult. As in the case of many wars that drag on, more unfortunate incidents and statements become the cause of increasing bitterness on both sides and this itself then becomes the reason for not pursuing peace more seriously.
However keeping in view the crucial importance for reducing the distress of people as well as for the larger objective of world peace, the peace process in Ukraine cannot be abandoned and should be pursued consistently and carefully with great commitment. For those trying to achieve this or to contribute to this in some way, the biggest problem is that there are some issues, particularly relating to territories, which cannot be resolved easily. Hence the peace proposal which is discussed here is based on achieving an immediate ceasefire based only on limited agreements, while also agreeing that the remaining issues will be resolved after a certain period in better conditions of peace and goodwill. This gives a chance for peace to come more quickly, allows adequate time for thinking over vexing issues in conditions of much improved political will for peace as well as interactions among various peace loving people, and later, when tempers are cooler and prospects are better, moves towards resolving the difficult issues in democratic, non-violent ways. It is with such intentions that a peace proposal is presented here and no doubt more learned scholars will be able to improve further and take it forward.
Important points of a peace proposal for Ukraine-
1.Given that continuing hostilities are extremely distressing for people, have in- built tendencies for escalation, pose the most serious threat today to world peace ( including possibility of use of nuclear weapons) and there is risk of nuclear accident as well, there is urgent need for immediate peace.
2.Recognizing also that there are some vexing issues, particularly territorial ones, that cannot be resolved very quickly, there is need for a limited agreement on certain issues for ceasefire, while also agreeing to decide on other issues after a certain time ( perhaps two years, perhaps a little more or less) when the remaining issues will be resolved in conditions of greater peace and stability as well as better goodwill and understanding between the two sides.
3.Russia and Ukraine should declare ceasefire as early as possible after reaching a limited agreement. It can be on the basis of the line of control, or any other limited agreement the two sides can reach for the time being.
4.Fighting will thus stop immediately while the remaining issues will be resolved within a time-frame, not too long, not too short. 5.After ceasefire several steps will be taken to increase mutual trust and understanding. Persons who have equal respect on both sides can contribute to this.
6.After ceasefire the task of rehabilitation and return of all those displaced persons who want to return to their home should start. At the same time militias and groups who are disruptors of peace should face strict action. No action based on revenge against any ordinary citizens should be allowed.
7.Within the decided time frame, in improved conditions of more goodwill and understanding, the remaining vexing issues should be resolved in democratic ways and the final agreement should examine the possibility of a no future war clause as well, along with a commitment that the two sides will not become party to any alliance or effort aimed at attacking, harming , threatening or encircling the other, while otherwise remaining entirely free to establish friendship and cooperation with all other countries. Both sides will respect the sovereignty of the other.
8.The two sides should seek to increase multi-level co-operation in various areas among people to promote friendship and goodwill on continuing basis, adding further to the historical heritage of close relations among neighboring people.
9.Various leaders and experienced diplomats of neutral countries, (retired diplomats of even non-neutral countries as some of them may be quite keen to contribute) can help in achieving this peace as and when needed, without being too intrusive.
It is hoped that this sincere peace proposal can contribute to advancing the peace process, particularly when taken up by peace groups (and scholars linked to them) who can improve this further.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.