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Ukraine war: Elusive peaceful co-existence amidst attitude of permanent hostility

By Bharat Dogra* 

Several prominent persons have warned from time to time that the Ukraine war, apart from being a humanitarian crisis for Ukraine as well as tens of millions of poor people in several other vulnerable countries, is the biggest threat to world peace now, and that there is ever-present danger of escalation and extension in which the actual use of weapons of mass destruction cannot be ruled out.
Despite the adverse impacts and risks being so acute, the peace process has been very weak so far, and this is a matter of the greatest concern at present.
Clearly the United Nation does not appear to have a very effective role just now in stopping the war. In certain conditions its processes can still prove useful and so its peace efforts should of course continue and increase, but given both the actual situation and the recent record of the UN in preventing and stopping war, more particularly in finding justice-based solutions, there is not much hope here.
The USA can be the most effective force at this moment in bringing peace IF it is sincerely guided by the objective of bringing peace as early as possible, but this is a big IF. By all indications including some of the statements of its leaders, its policy is guided much more by the objective of weakening Russia as much as possible, mobilizing resistance to it from within Ukraine of course but possibly also by assembling mercenaries from elsewhere, making available more and more destructive weapons to them.
The European Union can potentially be another source for leading peace efforts. But it has been disappointingly and increasingly subservient to the USA in recent times. There was a time when it was hoped that a stronger Europe, acquiring greater confidence from such a union, will be able to carve out a more independent foreign policy but this has not been visible very recently.
If the European Union had been able to play a more independent role and more specifically the sincere role of a peacemaker, this would have been really good but so far the record of the European Union has been very disappointing one from the perspective of the peace movement.
Another source of hope for peace can come from the invading side if it is known with reasonable certainty that after achieving some limited objective it will either withdraw or declare a unilateral ceasefire.
However, there is very little clarity just now on at what stage exactly will Russia declare something like this and even lesser certainty regarding whether Ukraine will accept such a unilateral declaration by Russia which is likely to be made only after Russia has deprived Ukraine of some territory.
Both because of the real anger of the people of Ukraine as well as policy control by the USA and its allies, it is unlikely that peace declared by Russia on terms involving territorial loss by Ukraine will be accepted.
There is failure of forces of peace in our troubled world, even more so the failure of the forces of peace with justice
So at the most what will happen is that the further advance of Russian forces will stop and Russia will concentrate more on defending the territories recently ‘occupied’ or ‘liberated’ by it, depending on points of view, but as long as the Russian forces or their allies defending these territories continue to be attacked by militants with an endless supply of highly destructive weapons, there can be no real peace and the limited war can any day escalate into wider war again.
The situation is both an existing humanitarian catastrophic situation just now and of high-risk escalation with few credible, high hope peace moves and efforts in sight. This is not just a temporary or immediate failure, but a reflection also of more permanent receding and failure of the forces of peace in our troubled world, even more so the failure of the forces of peace with justice.
Indeed, a real and permanent solution cannot be found without larger efforts to improve the wider relations of the USA and Russia. There are important people and organizations within the USA who understand the importance of this and have been working for this but they are very weak just now. Now is the most important time to strengthen their work, make it an important voice in policy making.
If there is a real change in US policy towards Russia, a change towards peaceful co-existence and possible friendship instead of the present day completely irrational attitude of permanent hostility, then of course the conditions for peace in Ukraine can immediately improve.
Of course this is a much better policy for the people of the USA as well; the challenge is to make US policy makers accept this. So a big effort has to be made for this in the USA and in the countries which are closely allied to the USA.
Among European Union members and in the UK in particular there should be an effort for this and they should try to create a future which integrates Russia with Europe in a relationship of friendship of instead of isolating it and making it bitter and angry needlessly. Together with this, of course, the peace with justice movement all over the world should be strengthened at all levels.
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*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘Planet in Peril’, ‘Man over Machine’ and ‘Earth without Borders’

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