'Escalation unavoidable' if Russia's call for talks on Ukraine ignored by US
West urged to consider more pragmatism in dealing with conflict
Published: Feb 12, 2023 09:22 PM
US Ukraine crisis  Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US Ukraine crisis Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Before the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict's outbreak, Moscow sent a message for talks based on the "existing reality" and without "preconditions," while US President Joe Biden is also scheduled to visit Poland to show Washington's unwavering support for Kiev to continue the fight. 

Chinese analysts believed that hopes for peace are low, and if Moscow's call for talks is ignored, the conflict will undoubtedly escalate. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said in an interview with Zvezda television that "Yes, according to the classics, any hostilities end up in talks, and, naturally, as we have said before, we will be ready for such talks, but only if those are talks with no preconditions, talks that would be based on the existing reality," TASS reported on Saturday.

However, it is not Kiev, but Washington and Brussels who make the decision on talks with Moscow, Vershinin said. 

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that "the multiple rounds of Russia-Ukraine talks in the last year that reached no meaningful result have proven that even if Moscow and Kiev reach some agreements, Washington will immediately get involved and ruin the entire process. So the key at the moment is not about whether talks could happen between Russia and Ukraine again, but whether Washington and Moscow can reach at least some tacit consensus to avoid an escalation."

Chinese analysts said that the US is not ready or willing for talks with Russia at this moment. Based on the latest arrangements and decisions made by the US, the Biden administration is going to keep the conflict from ending and will keep using it to undermine Russia and the EU, and Ukraine is the price that Washington is willing to pay which Moscow understands clearly.

Song said if Russia's call for talks is ignored by the US, then Moscow will be more determined to seek a breakthrough via military measures. This is likely to happen in the coming weeks or even coming days, as Russian troops need to launch a new offensive before the West's new military assistance to Ukraine is fully delivered.

If Russia realizes full control in the eastern region of Ukraine, Moscow would be able to declare a halt to "special military operation," and then a new basis for talks would be created. Western countries will need to reconsider how to deal with the situation with a more pragmatic attitude, and the divergence between the pro-peace European countries and the pro-war US could emerge again, said analysts. 

But the problem is that before there is hope for more peace talks, military conflicts and casualties would be unavoidable, they said. 

"Russia's call is more like a political expression to show that Moscow is open to negotiations rather than merely seeking a military solution, but this is not a realistic idea that would receive a positive response from the US at the moment," Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

According to CNN on Friday, Biden will visit Poland this month to mark the one-year anniversary of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, "returning to the region as the war enters a volatile new phase without a clear path to peace."

"The main purpose of Biden's trip to Europe at this time is to build momentum for his election next year. In addition, he also wants to suppress the pragmatic voices of peace in Europe and further put pressure on European leaders to jointly target Russia with a firmer hawkish stance, making a de-escalation of the conflict far from imminent," Cui noted.