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A Ukraine Peace Plan That Needs a U Thant

Context

Russia Ukraine crisis has unfolded for long now. However, no concrete attempts have been made by the office of the UN for restoring peace raising questions on its importance. It’s perhaps time that Antonio Gueterres does a U Thant.

Relevance

GS-II: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Dimensions of the Article

  • Insufficient Efforts
  • Objectives of Moscow
  • Peace Plan vis-à-vis Moscow
  • Peace Plan vis-à-vis Kyiv
  • Way Forward

Insufficient Efforts

  • No evidence of any ‘Shuttle Diplomacy’ conducted by the Secretary General.
  • No efforts pre or post invasion neither in Moscow nor with NATO.
  • However, it is misconception that UN is helpless is inaccurate despite Russia being a permanent member.
  • U Thant had intervened in the Cuban Missile Crisis and cooled it down.
  • When US was about to bomb Iraq, Kofi Annan undertook a trip to Baghdad to stave off war.
  • Israeli Prime Minister did travel to Moscow to initiate a peace plan.

Objective of Moscow

  • Whole picture remains unclear however few objectives can be clearly seen.
  • Russia does not want NATO at its doorstep.
  • It might bring about a regime change in Kyiv which is pro-Russian.
  • It might even aim at creating a buffer state between NATO and Russia
  • It might also unilaterally withdraw after the enemy has been ‘taught a lesson’.

Peace Plan vis-à-vis Russia

  • Formal and binding neutrality of Ukraine is the utmost priority of Russia.
  • Finland, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland have had this policy which has worked well for them.
  • Kyiv has to stop flirting with NATO.
  • Written guarantee in constitution might be what Russia demands.
  • Moscow would also want some restrictions on the type and range of weapons that Ukraine can keep.
  • Moscow would want to keep Donbas as a peacekeeper area.
  • Formalization of annexation of Crimean Peninsula.

Peace Plan vis-à-vis Ukraine

  • Ukraine would want to ensure protection from any future invasion where it can seek support of western countries.
  • Unlikely that this demand is accepted by Moscow as it would inherently mean NATO transgressing its borders.
  • Moscow though may cede to EU membership of Ukraine as Austria, Finland and Sweden are already examples of such nations which are flourishing EU members but are away from NATO.

Way Forward

Available solution to this conflict exists which can stabilize the region and make sure that the global geopolitical order is restored. Russia too is paying a huge price of its adventures and would want something worth paying the price for. Ukraine on the other hand would want the destruction to stop so that it can start rebuilding. All that is needed is for someone to push these solutions through Kyiv and Moscow. Its high time that the Secretary General, UN starts playing a proactive role.

Source – The Hindu

February 2023
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