The Guardian • Issue #2100

Peace in Ukraine? China’s initiative

A woman covers her son with a blanket after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland.

A woman covers her son with a blanket after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland. Photo: AP Sergei Grits flickr.com (CC BY 2.0 Deed)

Wars always end. How they end is important.

China has just announced four principles that would support peace initiatives. This builds on its earlier broad, 12-point proposal launched in late 2023 that it hoped would be the basis for negotiations.

Russian President Putin, has  applauded China’s approach, saying that Beijing proposes “practicable and constructive steps to achieve peace by refraining from pursuing vested interests and constant escalation of tensions, minimising the negative impact of the conflict on the global economy and the stability of global value chains.”

According to Putin, China’s four principles “build on the idea that we need to forego the “Cold War mentality,” and ensure indivisible security and respect for international law and the UN Charter in their entirety and interrelation. They could therefore lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take into account Russia’s security concerns and contribute to achieving a long-term and sustainable peace.”

Putin said that it was unfortunate that neither Ukraine nor its Western patrons support the initiatives.

This needs to be counterposed with the statements of the recent days coming from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. There was no hint at negotiation. No hint at seeking a way out of the conflict, a conflict that is turning against Ukraine and its imperialist backers. Instead, there were pledges to ‘stand by Ukraine’ whatever the cost.

In a policy speech in Kyiv, Blinken promoted the fiction that “Russia would not stop at Ukraine,” and that the American people “understood” the threat from Russia.

He went on to state that “Putin is ramping up yet another offensive against Ukraine in Kharkiv and across the east, sending wave after wave of Russian soldiers, Iranian drones, North Korean artillery, and tanks, missiles and fighter jets built with machines and parts supplied by China.”

With these words ringing in his ears, a Ukrainian MP has spoken of a coming third world war against the ‘axis of evil.’ This provocative phrase which has, of late, been getting a run in Washington, includes Russia, China, the DPRK, and Iran.

Blinken, echoed a favourite phrase of Biden, and adapted it to fit his Ukrainian audience. “The bottom line is this: For anyone who’s tempted to bet against Ukraine, don’t. It would be a big mistake. We’ve heard the same thing sometimes about the United States. Never a good bet to bet against us; never a good bet to bet against Ukraine.”

On one side lies a path to ruin, and the vain hope of a defeat of Russia. That path sees economic ruin for Russia, ‘reparations’ as with the Versailles Treaty and US carpetbaggers devouring Russian resources. On the other side lies a chance of a negotiated settlement. At present, such a spirit is lacking on the part of the US and its Ukrainian puppet regime.

Lost in the mire of the propaganda war has been Russia’s meeting with Ukraine in Istanbul in 2022. Russia offered to take into account Ukrainian demands including future security issues. Ukraine was amenable to the draft document. As Putin stressed in his interview, the negotiations collapsed because Ukraine’s “Western allies recommended that they continue hostilities and apply joint efforts to achieve Russia’s strategic defeat. We have never refused to negotiate.”

China’s role as potential peacemaker needs to be listened to, not only by Putin, but by Biden.

Wars end. How they end is important.

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