How to avoid a prolonged Russia-Ukraine war and ensure peace in Ukraine?

Photo: Prime Ministers: Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki (right), Czech Republic’s Petr Fiala (left) and Slovakia’s Eduard Heger (center) during a press conference in Košice, Slovakia / PAP Photo / Leszek Szymański

Some Western politicians and media outlets are increasingly speculating about a potential ceasefire or “freezing” of the Russia-Ukraine war as Ukraine prepares for its anticipated counteroffensive. 

French President Emmanuel Macron’s effort for an agreement with China over the Russia-Ukraine war has received a response from the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. They presented the reasons why there’ll be better times than now to negotiate with the aggressor state – Russia. And why a “partial victory” or a frozen dispute won’t resolve anything in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Regarding Ukraine, the free world must continue on its current path. The leaders claim that Ukraine must be provided with all the tools and resources necessary to defeat Russia and fully reclaim its sovereignty.

Ukraine has to establish the terms for peace

Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, the Czech Republic’s Petr Fiala, and Slovakia’s Eduard Heger all made solid and firm appeals to the civilized world. Friends of Ukraine urged people to support Kyiv in what was likely to be a pivotal phase of the whole war on the eve of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ counteroffensive. They wrote about this in a joint column for Foreign Affairs.

The Central European leaders assert that it is becoming increasingly evident that Russia has long ago made up its mind that it is at war with Europe and the West. By breaking international law and using or threatening to use force, the Kremlin has consistently threatened global stability and security. The aggression against Ukraine is only the most extreme manifestation of this conduct.

“Our call should be taken seriously: if Russia wins and Ukraine falls, central Europe may be next. Accordingly, defeating Russia now in Ukraine will reduce the chances of Ukraine’s backers’ having to spill their own blood and further treasure later. It will send a clear message that frozen conflicts and endless wars have no place in our region. And it will make clear to tyrants everywhere that aggression will not be rewarded and dictators will not be permitted to carve the planet into spheres of their evil influence.”

The joint appeal by the Prime Ministers: Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Republic’s Petr Fiala and Slovakia’s Eduard Heger.

The prime ministers’ statement says the world must continue to stand behind Ukraine until all Russian forces have left the country, putting an end to the revanchism and imperialism of the Kremlin. “Ending the war with Russia still in possession of Crimea and territories in eastern Ukraine would be like issuing an open invitation to all authoritarian lunatics who think that it is OK to invade their neighbors based on fabricated, hateful narratives, killing hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians in the process”, the statement reads.

The allies of Ukraine are convinced that it is only on Ukraine’s terms that will the lasting peace will be achieved. Russia likes to pretend to end a war because it gains time by freezing disputes. A frozen conflict will not bring stability, security or economic conditions in the long run. Instead, it will enable Russia to reassemble and reinforce its military while continuing to engage in political conflict and spread its imperial ideology.

“Our past has taught us the value of opposing evil and standing behind those who do. Because of this, the leaders of our region were the first people to visit President Zelensky in Kyiv. Because of this, our nations have taken in countless numbers of refugees and have supported Ukraine militarily, economically, and via humanitarian aid since the early stages of the Russian invasion”, the European leaders stressed.

The transatlantic partnership has been revitalized by the conflict, according to the politicians. More than at any other moment in the organization’s history, several NATO countries are increasing their defense spending and modernizing their armed forces. The member states of the Alliance must keep enhancing their defense strategies and raising the readiness of our armed forces as new pledges are made at the Vilnius Summit in July 2023.

The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland stress that the West’s determination must not be weakened at this time. As this spring’s fights on the battlefield get more intense, without exception, support for Ukraine must continue.

Every pause and hold-up put Ukraine at risk. The only way to prevent a drawn-out war is to give it the leverage it needs to prevail. We also need to remember that the Ukrainian people are keeping an eye on our ongoing conversations about the kinds of weapons we dare not deliver. 

The politicians added in their address that despite the temptation for some of us to give in to battle fatigue, Ukrainians continue to protect their nation and their lives.

The leaders also applauded the International Criminal Court’s recent indictment of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. But this is also the right time to set up a special court to prosecute Russia’s top officials for their role in the country’s aggression. Additionally, they advocate for the seizure of Russian assets and reserves, which the West estimates are worth $350 to $400 billion. These funds may and should be applied to Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction.

In regards to Russia, the leaders want a shift in strategy. The Western posture should be based on deterrence and strength, with dialogue serving as a means to show resolve and ease tensions but not as a goal in and of itself.

Macron’s “peace plans” have been undermined by China

French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic efforts to enlist China’s support over Russia’s war against Ukraine have suffered another blow. 

As mentioned by the Chinese ambassador to France Lu She, the former Soviet republics don’t have sovereign status as separate states, according to a statement that blatantly disregards the internationally recognized borders in Eastern and Central Europe. After this Chinese remark, Paris has come under intense criticism.

And the fact that Paris is “freelancing” on delicate subjects irritates the United States. Bloomberg analyzes this and cites its sources.

The transcript of Lu Shei’s interview, in which he questioned the sovereignty of the former Soviet states, some of them EU members now, has been taken down by the Chinese Embassy in France. According to official Beijing, it “respects the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all countries and upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.” China recalled that it was among the first nations to forge diplomatic ties with these states following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

This statement’s fact, nevertheless, is disturbing. China might be doing this to gauge how Europe will respond. After all, a diplomat in an authoritarian China would need the approval of the senior authorities before making any striking pronouncements. The operation appears to have failed, and the remark was strongly criticized.

It became evident that Lu’s remark undercuts Macron’s intention to utilize the conversations between his foreign policy advisor Emmanuel Bonnet and China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi to develop a strategy that may serve as the foundation for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are preparing for an anticipated spring counteroffensive to try to recover land captured by Russian forces as the war between Russia and Ukraine enters a critical phase. Meanwhile, Macron’s insistence on talks jeopardizes the entire united front of the allies. It raises questions about whether Kyiv will be able to retake its territory.

It’s interesting to note that presidents Joe Biden and Macron spoke on the phone last week. According to press reports and government declarations, the tone was cold.

People familiar with the Biden administration’s thinking said that when it came to the crisis in Ukraine, the White House was displeased with Macron for handling what they perceived to be a delicate diplomatic matter without contacting allies.

Bloomberg claims that this is not the first time that Macron has put up a peace plan only to be compelled to withdraw it. Since it is clear that the Chinese are unwilling to exert influence over Putin, it seems unlikely that Macron would succeed this time.

Given its “friendship without limits” with Russia, many nations doubt that China can act as an objective mediator. Putin and Xi have often promised to improve relations between their military.

Under these circumstances, the entire West should be prepared to agree with the American position and the declarations made by the presidents of the Central European states, which call for more robust support for Ukraine and a request that Russia withdraws its troops from Ukrainian land.

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