Ukraine crisis: Time for some peace diplomacy, visions of a better future
Published: Mar 02, 2022 11:50 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

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Russia's military operation against Ukraine will be very costly for the country and its people. The operation will also impact the West. I predict that the NATO/EU response will prove more fateful for Europe and the world than Russia's moves. 

The West now tries to buy time and finance Ukraine's defense, get weapons into Ukraine from all corners of the world and use Ukraine as a de facto NATO-Russia battleground.

The West is now overreacting with boundless non-intellectual, knee-jerk hatred, self-righteousness, and militarism at full blast with no thought for the future. It's all dangerous Groupthink. As Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, stated: "An eye for an eye will one day make the whole world blind." 

There will be no coexistence, reconciliation or peace in Europe for the foreseeable future. 

The new sanctions and other policies will be devastating to the West. Implementing sanctions across the board with no demands on what Russia must do to get them lifted signals no statesmanship, strategy or wisdom. It just signals that the West doesn't consider long-term coexistence.  

The global story since 1990 testifies to the intellectual and moral decay of NATO countries: they certainly have no credibility or moral capital to condemn anyone else's war. Russian media has been shut down and accused of lying to secure only Western FOSI - Fake + Omission + Source Ignorance. It's a sign of weakness rather than strength. 

Germany's mind-boggling rearmament will fundamentally change Europe. It implies the end of everything Germany has stood for since 1945. Its new military budget in 2022 is $112 billion, more than double Germany's current military budget. Russia's entire military budget is $66 billion!.

Russia will likely choose to no longer be part of the political West. It and China - and others over time - will turn their backs on the US and the West.

NATO's reaction and its pervasive uniformity serve as a distraction from the question no one dares or is allowed to ask: Have we in the West also done some things wrong over the past 30 years? 

I believe the West has - for example: NATO's expansion eastward in defiance of all promises given to Gorbachev about not expanding one inch, the Yugoslavia bombings (creating a second Albanian state in Europe, Kosovo), the Ballistic Missile Defence (2010) turned squarely against Russia, the Western promoted regime change in Kiev 2014, and the disdain for Russia's legitimate security claims since Putin's 2007 speech in Munich up until a few weeks ago. 

An explosion had to come in response to NATO's arrogant psycho-political autism. For a long time, the West did not see itself as a party to a conflict, only a good guy who is bullied for no reason by a criminal - one who must be ruthlessly punished.

The US/NATO/EU reaction to the military attack is conflict and peace illiterate because it rests only on: Tit for Tat + Militarist Thinking + Brinkmanship + Blame Game + Demonization.

More wisely and in clear contrast, China emphasises principles: Sovereignty of states, dialogue, the provisions of the UN Charter, and it applauds negotiations. In short, diplomacy.

This chaos could have been avoided if someone had earlier thought about common security and peace. That is what we must do now, implement constructive ideas like:

• Ukraine as a Switzerland-like country, neutral, non-aligned, federations, autonomies and cantons. Defensive defense. Respect for the country's sovereignty and borders.

• Ukraine as a cooperation project between Russia and the West. Let it host a special global institution and be useful to - and get the best out of - all sides: a space for Western and Russian development.

• A large, robust UN peacekeeping mission with the classic three legs - military, police and civil affairs.

• No further NATO enlargement (easy when you offer Ukraine better options than full NATO membership). 

• Withdrawal of all offensive long-range weapons around Ukraine.

• Russian military withdrawal from Ukraine. 

• An autonomy solution in the Donbass with UN demilitarization. 

• A nonaggression pact between Russia and Ukraine, giving Ukraine the kind of security guarantees Russia requires for itself. This would undermine Ukrainian NATO hegemony and disarm NATO expansion.

• All of Europe, including of course Russia, must discuss how to build a post-NATO system for conflict resolution and peace, a kind of European UN based on early warning, defensive civil and military defence, negotiation and mediation, and progressive disarmament.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Warsaw Pact collapsed in 1990, NATO's raison d'être also disappeared. There are still realistic alternatives. But they require that the West learns from its own militaristic mistakes and get creative. 

I doubt both abilities.  

The author is director of the Sweden-based Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn