Espreso. Global

Why it is vital to have clear vision of war ending

1 October, 2023 Sunday

The future of peace and conflict is shaped by our Western allies' stance. While opinions differ, a prevailing trend has emerged, and it's not promising

Western elites are deeply concerned about three scenarios:

  1. The fear of Ukraine's defeat implies political setbacks for those who supported Ukraine and the potential strengthening of global authoritarian forces, with a risk of Russian aggression in Europe and Chinese expansion.

  1. A Russian defeat could lead to disintegration, a humanitarian crisis, a massive refugee problem, unchecked nuclear proliferation, and China's increased power.

  1. Prolonging the war worries Western elites due to societal fatigue, heightened domestic political divisions, and, ultimately, Ukraine's defeat, with consequences similar to the first scenario.

If you're concerned about these outcomes, what's the alternative?

(It's worth noting that if all scenarios seem unfavorable, it may reflect a defeatist mindset. In contrast, China, for whom all scenarios appear acceptable or even advantageous, seems to be winning. If all scenarios appear negative to you initially, it suggests a skewed worldview.)

What options are left for Western elites?

First, they still dream of a scenario where Ukraine would have surrendered quickly in the spring of 2022. In this idealized version, there would be no current problems, no war, and no need for financial support from their countries. Ukraine's resilience has created problems for them (in fact, on the contrary).

Second, there are persistent myths that help maintain an outdated worldview:

a) Some believe that Putin will eventually pass away. However, with multiple lookalikes controlled by his inner circle, his demise is impossible. 

b) It's also a misconception that, if Putin were to die, Alexei Navalny would become Russia's president. In reality, power rests with the FSB and other influential groups. Even if Navalny were to be released and elected, it may not bring substantial change.

c) Another fallacy is that, after Putin's death and Navalny's inauguration, Russia would swiftly democratize. This is unlikely, as democracy requires both engaged citizens and established institutions, which are currently lacking.

Third, aside from the defeat of Ukraine or Russia or the prolongation of the war, there's the option of freezing the conflict. However, achieving consent from both Ukrainian and Russian sides for negotiations and a freeze is challenging. Ukrainian society may not support such a move by their leaders, and Putin prefers to wait for Ukraine to tire out.

Fourth, Western elites can opt to take no immediate action and hope for unforeseen developments to change the situation. For instance, the death of Putin (revisit the second point above). Currently, they are echoing the slogan, "we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes." As long as what takes, exactly? 

Not having a clear idea of how the war will end makes ending the war very tough, maybe even impossible. (Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Ukraine's Armed Forces retreating to their 1991 borders means the war is over.)

What should we do?

There's only one way: Ukraine needs to take charge and be proactive in ending the war. We should understand, analyze, and share possible post-war scenarios with our allies. Then, agree on the best outcome and ask for the resources and support needed to make it happen. We must also overcome our own feelings of inadequacy, as well as help our allies shed their colonial mindset. We should seek support from Western intellectuals and public figures, and send a clear message to countries outside the Western world (often referred to as the "Global South"). We should work to form a united front against imperialism within Russia. We should use viral memes to spread our message globally. We should create an international coalition dedicated to achieving lasting peace, just like we did when defending Ukraine. Otherwise, we'll end up going in circles in our efforts.


About the author. Valeriy Pekar, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy professor 

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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