It’s time to end the war

Azza Radwan Sedky
Thursday 9 Mar 2023

It has been over a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, time for all those involved to stop the war and avoid yet more destruction and bloodshed.


A year into the war in Ukraine, and all those involved seem as eager as ever to have it last even longer.

In fact, with how things stand, neither Russia nor Ukraine is seriously contemplating an end to the conflict. But allowing this crisis to continue is deplorable. Since the war’s inception, the word “peace” has hardly been uttered. In fact, quite the contrary has been the case, and intense surges of action and escalation have prevailed.

The players in the conflict are many, all adamant to win the war according to their own preferences and without relinquishing any gains. Russian President Vladimir Putin started the war thinking that it would be a smooth ride to get Ukraine to comply with Russian demands.

This was not a correct estimation. Today, this is a fully-fledged war that has seen the partial mobilisation of Russia’s military reservists. It is a war Putin is unable to stop unless he sacrifices his standing and reputation. He has even suspended Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty. Hence, he either wins or the whole world loses.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, misled by the other powerful factions, thought he could survive the Russian onslaught as a result of the West’s overwhelming support. Unfortunately, his country has been flattened in the process, his countrymen torn by the war, and millions reduced to refugee status or sacrificed for the sake of a greater cause. Today, Ukraine is bearing the brunt of a proxy war, with the Ukrainian people at risk of losing their country.

US President Joe Biden is enjoying the moment to the fullest. Despite the agony that has come about with the war including inflation, the skyrocketing cost of living, and billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, Americans are living in peace while the Ukrainians are fighting the battle for democracy and freedom for them. Without putting boots on the ground or having American troops physically affected, the US is succeeding in putting pressure on Russia.

The Western leaders at large are also enjoying inflicting damage on Russia. Although the war is the largest military conflict since World War II to take place on the European continent, it remains an opportunity that cannot be disregarded. They watch gleefully as Russia aches and remain unperturbed as Ukraine bears the strain. Even so, one in four Europeans is suffering as food and energy prices soar.   

All the parties are accountable as they are all unwilling to negotiate a peaceful outcome. Russia demands that its annexations are recognised before peace talks can be launched. According to Ukraine, this will not happen. In fact, Zelenskyy has announced that talks can only resume after Russia returns to the 1991 borders. He wants the Russian offensive to end before any negotiations begin.  Both sides are setting implausible demands, leaving the likelihood of peace unattainable.

Who are the losers in all this? The world at large is losing. Just about everyone on this Earth has been affected by soaring prices, with many now unable to make ends meet. In the developed countries, people are freezing to death, and some are asking for a maximum of two perishable items such as tomatoes and cucumbers when they go shopping while the supermarkets ration food items. According to the Belgian Brussels Times, “high energy prices will kill more than 100,000 Europeans this winter.”

In poverty-stricken countries, famine is closing in on many who must contend with shortages, soaring energy prices, and a lack of staples. The world’s major grain importers are the most vulnerable in this situation.

A case in point is Haiti, one of the 13 most fragile countries in the world, where “the [Ukraine] war is like pouring gasoline on an already raging fire,” says the International Fund for Agricultural Development. “With a poverty rate of nearly 60 per cent, high inflation and a corresponding drop in purchasing power threaten to drive even more Haitians into poverty. Fuel, when people in Haiti can access it, has tripled in price.”

Who profits from the crisis? The arms industry is flourishing. US arms sales increased by nearly 50 per cent in 2022, driven mostly by the Ukraine war.

Other players are getting involved, whether they like it or not. Sanctioned energy suppliers, alternative energy exporters, even those refusing to expand oil production are all players in this crisis, each having a goal they hope to achieve.

Moreover, the global divide is deepening. As the war develops further into a war of attrition, it is forcing the world to side with one camp or the other in a situation of the West versus Russia. Each camp is trying to put diplomatic and economic pressure on the other, resulting in a divided globe.

US officials have warned that China may be preparing to give weapons to Russia. Biden has told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that any such move would have far reaching results. He said its peace plan was “not rational.”

“The US is not used to hearing the truth. It’s reluctant to face its own problems and merely dismisses all criticism as propaganda… What the US should do is relinquish its hold on hegemony and seek peaceful coexistence with other countries on the basis of respect,” the Chinese answered.

Other countries are also becoming involved, India, Iran, and North Korea, to name a few. Iranian drones have been used by Russia against Ukraine, which led the Ukrainian government to expel the Iranian ambassador in Kyiv and downgrade relations with Iran and caused the US to impose further sanctions on Russia.

India abstained from voting in a UN General Assembly Resolution that condemned Russia, saying that peaceful dialogue was the only way out of the crisis, while North Korea, siding with Russia, has blamed the US for escalating the war by sending tanks to Ukraine.

The future is grim for the whole world if we continue along this path.


The writer is former professor of communication based in Vancouver, Canada.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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