Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Conflict resolution – the positive way out of the Ukraine crisis

According to Anatol Lieven, an academic and Ukraine specialist, this is “the most dangerous crisis in the world today; it is also in principle the most easily solved”. A solution exists, drawn up by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in 2015, which involves the implementation of the Minsk II agreement. This offers demilitarisation, a restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty including control of the border with Russia, and full autonomy for the Donbas region. The main objection for Kyiv is that autonomy for the Donbas would prevent Ukraine from joining Nato and the EU.

One way through this would be for Nato to declare Ukraine a neutral country and decree that it does not join Nato for at least a decade. In practice, Ukrainian membership of the EU is ruled out for at least a generation because of Ukraine’s corruption, political dysfunction and lack of economic progress.

I’m a conflict mediator. This is a way out of the Ukraine crisis   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/09/conflict-mediator-ukraine-vladimir-putinGabrielle Rifkind

Instead of ramping up the threats, western nations should be offering Vladimir Putin a ladder to climb down,  The current western narrative on the Ukraine crisis is that Russia is a machiavellian power with an expansionist agenda. That view is shaping our response: we are matching Vladimir Putin’s aggression, meeting strength with strength and threats with threats. But what if we tried to get inside the mind of the enemy, and ask what was motivating the aggression? By doing so, could we break this cycle – and offer Putin a way out, too?

When the USSR deployed ballistic missiles to Cuba in the 1960s, their proximity to the US nearly unleashed a third world war. Sitting in Moscow today, does Putin see being encircled by Nato as an equivalent threat? After all, one of his core demands is that Nato curbs its expansion close to the Russian border, and that Ukraine must not join. Russia claims that the US repeatedly told Soviet leaders it would incorporate Russia into a cooperative European security framework. In practice, Nato emerged as a US-dominated security frame with about 75,000 US troops still on European soil. Great powers always treat with suspicion and hostility the presence of rival great powers on their borders.

Putin was always bitter about the collapse of the Soviet Union. He bided his time, and in 2014 Russia seized Crimea and sent troops into Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region to support the separatist movement.

Russia today is no benign liberal democracy and President Putin has an intelligence mindset, playing poker, not chess. He is prepared to threaten war, create chaos and spread misinformation to push back Nato from Russia’s borders. Using coercive diplomacy, he has amassed more than 130,000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine, a continued threat to its sovereignty.

Yet however provocative Russia’s behaviour, western governments have a responsibility not to escalate the threat of war. The consequences of a direct US-Russian confrontation in Ukraine would be catastrophic on all sides. A full-scale conventional war could escalate into nuclear war. Even a limited war would create a ruinous global economic crisis that could destroy for the foreseeable future any chance of serious action against climate change.

I have worked in conflict resolution for the past 20 years and seen the dangers of stumbling into wars, unable to stop or turn back. Selling weapons to a country may look like a principled act in support of an ally but it usually takes them deeper and deeper into the quagmire of conflict. The US and the UK have instigated and been involved in four failed wars this century, but we seem to have failed to have learned the lessons.

There are those who argue that sending military support to Ukraine strengthens Nato’s hand at the negotiating table. Yet there are inherent dangers in this approach – the use of deterrence could be the very thing that escalates the situation.

Washington and London have pledged to increase offensive military aid to Ukraine and have announced arms deliveries, ammunition and anti-tank weapons. The UK is seeking to put itself at the forefront of western efforts to forestall what the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has called the risk of a “lightning war” in eastern Europe.

Germany has been much more sceptical, blocking the transfer of German-made weapons from Baltic states to Ukraine. It has long argued against sending weapons to active conflict zones. Germany has declared that it is prepared to have a serious dialogue with Russia to defuse the highly dangerous situation, arguing that diplomacy is the only viable way.

Whatever western governments feel about Moscow’s behaviour, de-escalating the conflict and giving Moscow a ladder to climb down is in everyone’s interest. We should not underestimate the link between humiliation and aggression. Putin is a very proud man, and smart politics by western governments should offer face-saving gestures if we are serious about avoiding war.

According to Anatol Lieven, an academic and Ukraine specialist, this is “the most dangerous crisis in the world today; it is also in principle the most easily solved”. A solution exists, drawn up by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in 2015, which involves the implementation of the Minsk II agreement. This offers demilitarisation, a restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty including control of the border with Russia, and full autonomy for the Donbas region. The main objection for Kyiv is that autonomy for the Donbas would prevent Ukraine from joining Nato and the EU.

One way through this would be for Nato to declare Ukraine a neutral country and decree that it does not join Nato for at least a decade. In practice, Ukrainian membership of the EU is ruled out for at least a generation because of Ukraine’s corruption, political dysfunction and lack of economic progress.

Talks between Putin and France’s President Macron this week were more conciliatory in tone. Macron said: “There is no security for Europeans if there is no security for Russia.” A permanent forum where Russia is welcome is needed to re-examine the post-cold war security system in Europe. This approach to issues such as missile deployments, arms control and transparency around military exercises could ease this conflict. Such a dialogue could create a climate of security cooperation with Russia.

  • Gabrielle Rifkind is a specialist in conflict resolution and the director of Oxford Process

February 12, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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