A Major Diplomatic Triumph, Yes, but has the G-20 Summit Brought Ukraine Nearer to Peace?

russian tank ukraine

There is no doubt that the G-20 declaration is a major diplomatic triumph for Indian negotiators. The contribution of others, like those from Brazil, who helped in securing consensus agreement on this must also be acknowledged.

At a time when the world is so divided particularly on the Ukraine conflict, to secure a consensus declaration was no easy matter, and it is a tribute to the drafting as well as persuasive skills of the Indian team that not only was a consensus declaration possible but appreciation for this effort could be obtained from the western side as well as from the Russian side.

However without in any way distracting from this major diplomatic achievement or  diminishing its importance, a more difficult as well as more significant question must still be asked—Has the G-20 summit (or for that matter any other major recent event) improved the prospects of peace coming to Ukraine in the near future?

Unfortunately there is hardly any evidence or indication that prospects of ending the Ukraine war soon have improved. Instead, all available evidence appears to indicate that the Ukraine war has turned into a prolonged one—a war of attrition—leading to a lengthening shadow over prospects of world peace as well.

While this is the predominant reality, it is also true that if the USA leadership can be convinced of the compelling need for peace, then the prospects of peace can also improve very quickly. Unfortunately, recent appointments at senior levels in the USA foreign policy establishment indicate an increasing rather a decreasing turn towards the more hawkish and aggressive elements, particularly those who are more aggressive towards Russia, and this must cause concern. Nevertheless the possibility remains that if the USA policy can turn in the direction of peace, a quick resolving of the Ukraine resolve will be greatly facilitated.

Hence despite the situation being very pessimistic for peace just now, there is no reason for sincere peace-makers not to keep trying. Those who believe strongly in peace within the USA can still play a very important role in bringing peace. The peace movement in the USA has been proved to be extremely weak in recent times. Very few persons and organizations have been able to say what needs to be said, and with even lesser support from any establishment figures. This is really a very important time to work for renewed strength of the peace movement within the USA. In no other country can the peace movement make a bigger contribution to peace and disarmament.

As this writer has repeatedly asserted, the peace process in Ukraine must start with an unconditional ceasefire, and then there can be prolonged negotiations to settle all contentious issues, with the entire world contributing to creating the goodwill necessary for the success of the negotiations, and all major countries contributing to the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort in Ukraine.

Apart from the United Nations, leading countries like India, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa can contribute much to these peace efforts.

Without major peace efforts, the prolonging of the Ukraine conflict will not only lead to avoidable huge costs to the involved countries, particularly to the people of Ukraine, but will also affect the entire world adversely in various ways, including in terms of crucial needs like food and fuel. Worst of all, the prolonged conflict has the possibilities of major escalations not only along the lines of a conventional war, but even, in certain circumstances, of a conflict involving the biggest nuclear weapon powers in a nuclear weapons war that can destroy the world. This may be the worst case scenario, but this is a possibility so dangerous that its very existence should be a major reason for ending the conflict as early as possible.

Hence this is a time for creating wider consensus for immediate ceasefire to be followed by peaceful negotiations, if necessary prolonged peace negotiations. In fact the entire approach should be for allowing the peace process to be as prolonged as need be, with intervals if needed, without allowing it to break down. Meanwhile all the time various goodwill efforts as well as relief and rehabilitation efforts should continue. Community based rehabilitation should be emphasized. Cultural programs of two countries should bring out old friendships. The entire effort should be not just for  peace but for meaningful peace and durable peace—for ending the conflict on a note on which the people of the two countries can leave with a good relationship on durable basis. This appears very difficult at present, but this is possible and this should be the aim of those working for peace.

Clearly much more remains for achieving durable and meaningful peace in Ukraine, and an immediate ceasefire has to be seen as an essential starting point only. The peace movement worldwide should recognize the importance of peace in Ukraine and should contribute to this as much as possible.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, When the Two Streams Met and A Day in 2071.


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