Some key developments on the all-encompassing war between Russia and Ukraine emerged over the last week which could have been very valuable in finding a way out of the debilitating war but the reactions from both sides including the USA and NATO tell the world that this tragedy is going on for the long haul.
First was the report that the Ukrainian forces fired drones 400 miles inside the Russian territory over one of the key military bases and the drone was shot down with the debris killing three Russian soldiers.
This might have been exciting to Ukraine President Zelenskyy and his army and a bit terrifying to the Russian forces. It was a sign that Ukraine can get right inside Russia and take the war to its doorstep. Russia is of course expected to launch a series of attacks into Kiev and other places in Ukraine in response.
So it was interesting that Putin, the King of Russia, made an offer for a negotiated peaceful resolution of the war. As expected Putin ordered Ukraine to agree to such negotiations in accordance with the terms set up by Russia. That is a call for surrender and even Putin knew that was not going to happen.
President Zelenskyy following in the same Putin line responded by asking that the negotiation start in February 2023 on condition that Putin is tried and convicted of committing war crimes by the International War Tribunal. Also, Zelenskyy asked that Russia be thrown out of the United National Security Council (UNSC) and from the UN General Assembly of Nations.
At best Zelensky is being absurdly delusional. First Russia is one of the five permanent UNSC members and has veto powers in there, meaning, the idea of removing them from the UNSC is simply not possible. One would expect that Zelenskyy as president of a country that is a member of the UN would know such basic things.
Also, the idea that Putin would submit himself for trial on war crimes and end up in jail is simply never going to happen. On the contrary, one would have hoped that the USA should have taken the initiative right after making Putin an outrageous peace offer to talk to Zelenskyy, to ask him to tell the world that Ukraine is ready for peace negotiations as long as it is preceded by a cease-fire.
Ukraine’s president should have simply told the world that he is not willing to negotiate with Putin when the bombs are still raining on their land and people are locked up in freezing cold. No need to make any demands that just mess up everything but ask for a ceasefire as the first step. That would have put Putin in a bind because he cannot claim to be asking for a negotiations while still bombing Ukraine.
The US had just provided Ukraine with $ 45 billion in aid and had a good chance to get Ukraine serious with peace negotiations and Zelenskyy would be ready to listen.
Under the circumstances, it seems clear that the terrible war and destruction going on in Ukraine right now is going to continue for a long time to come and that is bad news for the people of Ukraine and the whole world because nobody in a position of leadership in this conflict has any clue how to end it.
The one really troubling thing about this war is that NATO and the USA as well as the West in general prefer to do the cheer mongering about the war telling the people of Ukraine and their president how brave and wonderful they are. Yes, indeed Ukraine and the people of that country have been incredibly brave and very determined not to surrender to the superior firepower of Russia.
That is something the whole world must support them for and help in whichever way they can. But there is a difference between bravery and suicide. You don’t cheer people when they are about to commit suicide you help them get out of that situation. Ukraine at the moment is close to complete ruins it could take them decades to stitch their country back together.
The real deal is that neither NATO nor the USA is willing to help Ukraine engage Russia in any meaningful war resistance which would require that Ukraine gets the weapons and soldiers deployed from NATO and the USA to bomb the hell out of Russia and make it impossible for Russia to grind Ukraine to the ground. They provide defensive military equipment and humanitarian aid but never any military capacity to go on the offensive which is the only way they can beat Russia.
Why is NATO and the USA terrified of attacking Russia? They are not idiots.
They know Russia has some of the most extensive and deadly nuclear weapons and the military gear to deliver them anywhere in the world. They are not touching Russia because nobody wants to face a nuclear WWIII. It could destroy the whole world and nobody including NATO and the USA has any defense for that. But at the same time, NATO and the USA cannot admit that fact and so they keep cheering brave Ukraine to go on with the war while they do their propaganda work as the West stopping Russia.
Here is the problem. Effectively the West is at war with Russia and poor Ukraine is the safe battlefield for them as long as the war never comes to their own doorsteps. But this is a very slippery slope where just one big mistake by either side in the war can lead to everything breaking loose.
If Ukraine attacks the Russians in any serious way, Putin will go all the way and could carpet bomb Ukraine in a way that will force NATO and the USA to get involved in the real war, and then everything is on the table and we could all go up in smoke. That would be the end of the safe war for Europe and the USA. Nobody should play games with such a possibility.
For now, the USA is sending Patriot Air Defense Missiles to Ukraine as some show of force. Those missiles cannot do what real negotiations for a peaceful resolution of this war can do. They are just military gimmicks at best.
The USA and NATO need to get serious with real peace talks and the best way to do that is to take the matter to the UN and have the UN Secretary-General appoint a team of countries to negotiate for a peaceful settlement.
They should learn from what President Obama did with Iran when they were facing a confrontation about Iran developing nuclear weapons.
A head-to-head negotiation between Iran and USA on that matter would never work so they decided to go to the UNSC and created the 5+1 countries to negotiate a deal. The 5+1 were members of the UNSC plus Germany and it was agreed that whatever they agreed on would be binding to the UNSC. It worked even though President Trump ruined all that with his dumb move to pull out of the deal. It gave the world an example of how to negotiate such complicated international problems.
The UN can appoint five or so countries to do the negotiation and their starting point will be a complete ceasefire from Russia and no games from either side. Once the ceasefire is in place, the next issue will be what to do with the four regions already occupied by Russia.
One way to start that process is to ask both Russia and Ukraine to remove their soldiers and military equipment from those regions and put the regions under UN Peace Keeping Forces that can slowly bring normalcy into those regions and then navigate their way into normal life as part of Ukraine territory.
Shouting and screaming at each other will not help Ukraine or Russia and it certainly offers no hope for the international community to bring peace to the whole place.
There are a few countries already acceptable to both countries at war starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India who could very well lead the peace team under the auspices of the UN and there should be an agreement that the formula determined by that team to resolve the war will be binding to the UNSC which includes Russia.
If such a deal is worked out properly, Russia and Ukraine will accept to end the destructive and costly war and save face and both would look like they achieved something which is really what is remaining for both parties.
All the big talk is nonsense and it is time for the UN and the international community to come back to earth and deal with the reality as it is and quit the fantasy of one or the other party to this war getting everything they want. The longer this war goes on the harder it will be to resolve it peacefully and the ultimate results could be super destructive to the whole world.
Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada