West must open channel for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine

Kyiv is willing to talk to Moscow while reviewing its role in Nato

File photo
File photo

Published: Tue 3 May 2022, 11:32 PM

What began as a swift special operation didn’t pan out that way. Russia attacked and ran into brave Ukraine resistance. The West and Moscow expected Kyiv to fall in a couple of days after the offensive was launched on February 24 but were surprised at the Ukrainian fightback.

The resistance held and the West is now harbouring hopes of a Russian defeat at the hands of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is changing tactics and attempting to slice parts of Ukraine in the east and bring it under Moscow’s influence. Special ops that did not meet its military objectives have now led to the encirclement of Ukraine which has pulled the US and EU into the conflict, albeit indirectly.

Moscow calls this a proxy war, a new Cold War that has become hot in Ukraine. But the conflict could have been prevented if the West had taken diplomacy seriously and engaged with Putin before all this began.

Meanwhile, the West has increased the supply of sophisticated weapons to Kyiv which could only make the situation worse. Hostilities are at a pitch with Ukrainian cities in ruins as Russian artillery and rockets pound them.

Amid the gunfire and bombs, there have been calls for restraint and reason. On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there would be no winner in this war if there is no plan for peace starting with an immediate ceasefire.

The United Nations and the Western elite are condemning the violence while taking sides when the need is for level-heads and stoic neutrality. High-level visits by Western dignitaries to the afflicted regions are not enough and only make matters worse as Russia views these developments with suspicion.

Even UN chief Antonio Guterres paid a visit to Ukraine to shore up support for the cause in a sign of activism when he should have made a dash for Moscow too. The focus now is on boosting Ukraine’s military than on any clear strategy to end the fighting after speaking to both sides and assuaging their concerns. It appears that everyone wants a good war for their own reasons. Meanwhile, more lives will be lost as Ukraine turns into a wasteland of suffering and destruction.

Kyiv, however, is willing to talk to Moscow while reviewing its role in Nato. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated that position in a recent interview with an Arabic TV channel.

The West should stay out of the fray and assist in creating conditions for the two to meet. US President Joe Biden’s strategy to weaken Russia and oust Putin is flawed and will meet with failure. His recent appeal urging Congress to clear $33 billion for the effort is a loud war cry that could further provoke Moscow. Perhaps he should read H. G. Wells aloud: ‘If we don’t end war, war will end us.’

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