The sculpture “Stop playing” by great Artist Lorenzo Quinn inspires me to visualise the Ukraine-Russia war as a profitable game in political terms, out from Negotiation or/and Diplomacy, like a slingshot that delivers a fairground only from a Media perspective. There are no healthy, nor dynamic drivers to end the “game” but an irresponsible attitude to increase military deployment that means: “throw the rock and hide the hand” toward civilian casualties. Is the only strategy, a slingshot that shoots to “win” not to find a solution that keeps peace in the region, within renunciation, delivering equal power to both sides, acceptance from the historical context -including far-right action in the region for ages-, and the threat from NATO enlargement.
The arbitrary shoot: sanctions that do not deliver – stop the war, although condemning Russian citizenship, and their global leadership, high technology for Ukraine that only feed the conflict, the EU as part of the conflict -not a Mediator-, and a pretended global leadership biased, euphoric, and aggressive, supported by a manipulative Media.
The utopian conclusion from G20 (November 2022) that the Summit was a success is equal to the utopia of settling the conflict without negotiation/Diplomacy, and most important out from historical, regional, and local circumstances. Without taking into account the latest, global leaders are supposed to be aligned in an anti-Russia goal, instead of anti-war. Acting within endorsed positions, although without practical steps that deliver immediate outcomes -beyond military deployment- As a consequence, losing grip on reality, and an overwhelmed political agenda that leads to a Zero-sum game.
Even if Ukraine were the absolute winner does not mean that the international community would equally gain any benefits in terms of contributing to global sustainable peace -more than stopping the conflict temporarily-. Is not a conflict that started on February 2022, is a historical, regional controversy with global impact, and is the perfect opportunity to understand how we may achieve peace, therefore international stability, and not reduce it into condemning one Nation.
There is a very important probability that Ukraine is searching to regain Crimea, may be a legitimate ambition, however, not part of international affairs, absolutely local ones. Supporting Ukraine with a super powerful military deployment is a dangerous precedent for present and future armed conflicts in any part of the planet.
Once and again we miss opportunities to move towards negotiation or at least dialogue for long-lasting peace, to get into an effective action that ends the war now, and prevent local conflicts in the future That is called: building peace, and is curious that despite the different high-level Summits is still missing. Maybe it’s a matter of political will, rather than a specific, and high goal of peace…
Is indeed a lack of political will, rather than a conflict with no possibilities to be settled. Finding solutions only by military deployment is precisely the element that questions the rest of the process, and the own meaning of G20:” premier forum for international economic cooperation”. It is a matter of joint action, and the impact on a global economy that justifies the intervention in a regional conflict, not a general mandate to interfere in national sovereignties.
United Nations, the European Union, and most of the political leaders feel the surprising pressure to condemn Russia, not simply the war. As presented by the Media, it looks as is just about “Russian’s spontaneous war”, and not a much complex regional issue.
The “Russian runaway horse” holds two sides: the threat from far-right groups in Ukraine against Russian citizens willing to join Russia, and the other, their historical ambition to go back to rescue the Soviet Union values. However, is it the first one the priority, and the leading focus for going to war, along with the even greater threat in geopolitics terms represented by NATO expansion.
War atrocities are not justified, the decision to go to war to defend geopolitical power and national citizens are justified. Is it so that Neutrality comes as a key action, and has been identified as so by different countries such as Switzerland, Austria, or India, helping to further a real peace agenda out from euphoria, and marketing. Is not a lack of empathy but a way not to get involved in local conflicts that demands only local political will. A peacekeeping focus comes also from the capacity to contribute through the deployment of diplomatic action, and humanitarian assistance.
NATO goals or US agenda from an old rivalry with Russia?
After all this time I strongly believe that the rivalry US-Russia still exists -stronger than ever-, and is the main reason why Ukraine is carefully supported in its denial of a peace negotiation.
President Zelensky: “Russia must withdraw all its troops, and formations from the territory of Ukraine…”* is a statement that sounds like a claim for peace, however not from a realistic focus, not aligned with the natural principles that end a war, forgetting the powerful attacks carrying on by Ukraine within American/EU support. My analysis is that there is no will to negotiate from the very beginning but to change the status quo created by Russia in the region, and take the foreign military support as an opportunity to regain Crimea.
This war is not fair, but negotiation is always fair. Is not possible to ignore the controversial claim from Russia on the Dombass region, moreover, acknowledge by thousands of Russian citizens in the last illegal referendum.
“Putin has made it clear that he wants all four provinces that Moscow illegally annexed in September—Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia—and in a televised meeting last December, he indicated that he is prepared to undergo “a long process” to get them”*
The disgrace of Russia´s initiative to deploy military operations was followed by another disgraceful -although successful – counterattack from Ukraine. The outcome: a war that may, and should be stopped from the very beginning, instead Ukraine searches to win, which indeed does, making part of the international community and the worst part, global institutions, in complicity with this brutal attack -from both sides-.
The intention to recover Crimea is not to defend themselves but a political agenda determined and ambitious..Once one side of the conflict decides to fight back is time to reset, and accept the consequences, if there is no will for negotiation there is no fair claim in terms of gaining international support. Simply applying rules of war. The unfairness that represents war atrocities finds its path when there is more than resistance but the will to win and recover territories from past wars. Is it only here that international support should be questioned because the global community should not leave a precedent that regional conflicts may be solved by foreign support.
Let us explore some facts…
“…Zelensky, domestically unpopular before the invasion, saw his approval ratings skyrocket and became a globally recognized wartime leader. And the Ukrainian government succeeded in getting historic amounts of aid from the West. As of late January 2023, the United States has provided $26.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, and European states have contributed billions more. The Ukrainians have been stocked with body armor, air defense systems, helicopters, M777 artillery, and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). They are receiving Western tanks.…”* Foreign Affairs March, April 2023
The military superiority of Ukraine comes only from Western support and their political will to “win” not to end the confrontation or/and to address a legitimate defense. Particularly in political terms, they are clear benefits coming from the war: extraordinary popularity from President Zelensky, the historical record on foreign assistance, European Union membership, and high-tech military superiority. Therefore, surprisingly and sadly, there is no political will to end by a negotiated way out, only to become the absolute winner.
Let s be clear, negotiation would supposed to resign -or allow Russian military presence- at least to some of the territories claimed by Russia that are four: Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. I am pretty certain that if so, they will be a truly end, identifying “winners”, and “losers” only by Analysts.
Is it also important to highlight that the current chaos holds responsibility from both sides. In the case of Russia: “society is responding to war with detachment, conspiracy, confusion or volunteerism”* A true forgotten struggle: Russian citizens, and their internal contradictions: an idiosyncrasy that is driven them to accept the fact of losing the war in Ukraine trusting on their leaders rather than their judgment. A political culture based on a powerful Government, self-sufficient, and authoritarian. A strong Nationalism makes them look at the Russian citizens in the contested region as an act of liberation rather than violence, defense of national sovereignty rather than invasion, the national supremacy rather than military power.
The same happens with the United States, which only changes in terms of the way they approach the international community. American citizens have also supported military intervention for decades, trusting their leaders´ criteria even if the military deployment comes to happen in geographical areas with different cultures, religions or/and American citizens present there.
Time to look at conspiracy theories, and beyond rather than logic, perversion, or tyranny ….
Demands from President Vladimir Putin
It is of equal importance to listen to Ukraine’s perspectives as to Russia’s. A negotiation will come from the conciliation of both positions, not by erasing one side.
On February 21, 2022, President Putin’s speech stated: “…I pay special attention to the fact that the danger of a sudden strike against our country will increase many times over. Let me explain that U.S. strategic planning documents contain the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike against enemy missile systems. And who is the main enemy of the U.S. and NATO? We know that too. It’s Russia. In NATO documents, our country is officially and directly declared the main threat to North Atlantic security….”*
Why is so important to analyze President Putin´s take? Because before the war, the European Union was not precisely a “fan” of NATO, and was considered only as one more strategic alliance, not better than the European Union Army. Also during Trump´s Presidency, there was a rise of skepticism about the worthiness of the alliance. At the same time, the idea to build an EU Army by increasing the military budget of each country Member was actually untimely.
Now, within a scenario in which US repeats the same mistakes as for Middle East intervention, we realize that the EU Army is desperately needed. The European Union’s goals for their members and neighbors have always been different from the super powerful US. The need for military intervention, and high technology to “ go to war and win” is not part of EU philosophy but a determined American dream.
Is indeed the American interest in the region that is addressed by President Putin:
“If Ukraine was to join NATO it would serve as a direct threat to the security of Russia.”*
“Those who embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed, lawlessness did not recognize and do not recognize any other solution to the Donbass issue, except for the military one”*
“I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. I ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision, and then to ratify the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with individual republics”¨
This is precisely the last part of Putin´s speech that makes the difference, and prints with sense a violent scenario: “and then to ratify the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with individual republics”. This aspect may be a turning point to stabilize the region instead of forcing their citizens to be under an authority that after the referendum made it clear is a threat to their security. (Please note that far-right groups Azov have been absorbed into National Guard)
The engagement in military deployment, and the “unconditional support” to Ukraine when there is proof that there is no will to stop aggression is extremely dangerous. First, it sets a wrong precedent: directly influencing one or the other side of the conflict. Just looking at the past we realize that there are deep contradictions each time the EU has joined NATO /USA. In the Middle East no matter the country: Syria, Afghanistan, or Irak, it repeatedly exposed two contradictory agendas over the table: the agenda on power from US, and the peacekeeping focus from the EU. There is no possible conciliation.
Besides, under the current circumstances, the EU is not in a position to be on one side or another as is going through a deep crisis: the lack of transparency exposed by “Qatargate”, and biased corruption interests by main leaders. That is the main reason to make sure that all processes that the EU is engaged in are absolute neutral, within the full deployment of “negotiation armament”.
One of the conclusions from the G20 meeting in Bali last November states: “..deploring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “in the strongest terms”, and demanding its unconditional withdrawal”*
Once again we see that there is no deep strategy for peacekeeping or strong political will to negotiate, very much aligned with Ukrainian leaders:
‘When you have the initiative on the battlefield, it’s slightly bizarre to receive proposals like: ”you will not be able to do everything by military means anyway, you need to negotiate,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak.
It’s a matter of choice and when Ukraine decides to deploy military power with support from the US, it dismisses any attempt for peace talks, and negotiation. It’s hard to acknowledge that Ukrainian leaders hold the responsibility to the continuity of the attacks instead of an agreement that finally leads to peace. It’s to forecast that such an agreement will imply the resignation of part of the territory, however, it is also a way to protect civilians. A strong sense of commitment to the civilian population, and a way to leave aside all elements that surround Ukraine with a far-right agenda against Russian citizens in the last 10 years.
Podolyak surprising statement is that: “the war will end when we regain control of our borders, and when Russia is afraid of Ukraine.’ Is translated into a never-ending war…
This lack of communication goes against the global trend of boosting dialogue, exchange, and negotiation particularly established by the Partnerships for Peace (PIP) (established in1994) created to “ enable participants to develop an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their priorities for cooperation, and the level and pace of progress.”
Open to all NATO partners it reminds us of the need to build peace and bring stability instead of blocks of power: NATO against Russia (and their allies). It is about finding the correct measurements from geopolitical relations out from centralized power. The contrary is what is currently happening, US, the main donor in NATO, is leading the path towards a block with the European Union, gaining their naif complicity that in the end, go against the strategy further in the last decades towards keeping a counterbalance, serving as a Mediator within US, and a Facilitator to other processes -Middle East-.
In the meantime, PIP agreement is blocked, they do not want to implement it because it is not suitable -nor profitable- for an agenda based exclusively on military deployment. The capacity to work on strategic partnerships, and find the local measure of each demand, need, and political reality for each country, is not part of the political agenda. Although is exactly what we need to thrive, and keep a status quo of permanent negotiation that guarantees peace. Actually is not about concessions, just fulfilling the requirements towards stability that have been set long ago since the threat of war hover over the region.
There is NO need to have more countries in NATO as members to build bridges, although more implementation of wider partnerships that identify the key facts that are driving countries such as Russia to look at them as “provocations”. Imposing an odd global agenda: centralized, elitist, manipulative, and with no respect to conflictive historical-regional processes. Therefore with no positive outcomes.
The rebirth of the PIP, would represent a determined political will to build peace, and not to further biased political agendas. Is in this context that a peace-builder scenario may be constructed by the joint action, dialogue, and negotiation from NATO, the European Union Army, and the rest of the countries (under PIP). Is it only then that we may consider military deployment and not the other way round.
“Is based on a commitment to democratic principles, the purpose of the PIP is to increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build strengthened security relationships between NATO and no members countries in the Euro-Atlantic area”. “Since April 2011, all PIP activities and exercises are in principle open to all NATO partners, be they from the Euro-Atlantic region, the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Co-operation initiative, and global partners.”
We may find global partners such as China which has emerged as a supporter of a peaceful way out, although on the Russian side, its particularly important to reflect and stop the escalation. Leaving aside ambition of power and moving towards a solution. Is not necessarily the one that will please Ukraine or Russia independently but definitely, we’re meant to put an end. War is not fair, Negotiation is always fair.
Diplomacy is not a “luxury accessory”, is the only tool to make peace, although is it true that is a luxury reserved only for strong leaders willing to negotiate power.
Condemn war, not Russia, condemn military operations, not feed them, and impose sanctions on both parties until they come to an end, forcing both sides to resign, change, and give mutual concessions in those territories where the Russian population lives and voted to be annexed. There is no time for war.