Aleksandr Podrabinek: Peacemakers line up at the Kremlin Gates

29 May 2023

by Aleksandr Podrabinek

Source: Vot-Tak.TV

How do we stop Russia’s war against Ukraine? This topic has become fashionable in international relations. Just who hasn’t signed up to be a peacemaker, offering their solution to the conflict. Some with a covert interest; others simply to be heard.

“The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

Take, for instance, Europe’s penultimate dictator, Aleksandr Lukashenka. A couple of months ago he offered to declare a ceasefire and halt military actions in Ukraine. Without any preconditions. As if the war had begun due to a misunderstanding that could easily be cleared up at the negotiations table.

The Belarussian dictator is amusing in his attempts to do something in public diplomacy. No one has invited him anywhere, he’s not allowed into decent countries, and his claim to peacemaker laurels is a last-ditch attempt to remind people he’s still around.

Also starved for glory is former U.S. President Donald Trump. Back in September he wrote on his social network Truth Social, addressing Russia and Ukraine:

“Be strategic, be smart, get a negotiated deal done NOW. Both sides need and want it. The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

Naturally, the question was left hanging.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, during a visit last week to European countries, Li Hui, Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs, fought for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, but so that Russia retained control over the occupied territories. The benefit to China is clear: if the world community agrees to the occupation of part of Ukraine, why shouldn’t it make its peace with the occupation of Tibet in the past and the seizure of Taiwan in the future?

Who owes who what 

On Friday, 26 May, Li Hui flew to Moscow, and the next day the Russian Foreign Ministry publicly expressed its complete understanding of the Chinese position. In an interview with TASS, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin listed a number of conditions under which Russia would agree to stop the war.

There are nine of these conditions, seven concrete and two mythical. Mythical conditions are unfeasible by definition. How can you eliminate what doesn’t exist? But the Russian Foreign Ministry insists on the “de-Nazification of Ukraine” and the “elimination of threats to Russia’s security coming from its [Ukraine’s] territory.” As if Ukraine had attacked Russia and not the other way around.

The concrete conditions are plain and simple. The Ukrainian Armed Forces must cease military actions. Ukraine must reject the delivery of Western armaments. Ukraine must disarm (this is what the Russian Foreign Military calls demilitarization). Ukraine must give up entry into NATO and the EU. Ukraine must, as Mr. Galuzin expressed it, “recognize the new territorial realities,” that is, quietly accept the fact of annexation and not rebel. Ukraine must make Russian a state language. And finally, Ukraine must observe “basic human rights, including the right to freedom of confession.”

The last condition is especially noteworthy. This demand comes from a country where they hand down insane sentences for comments on the Internet and put Jehovah’s Witnesses in prison for communal reading of the Bible. 

A war footing, a war economy, and military censorship

To complete the picture, the Russian Foreign Ministry should add two more demands to the list: restore all the monuments from the Soviet and imperial eras; and also give the streets and squares of Ukraine towns back their old Soviet names. Otherwise there can be no peace and the war will continue.

These “peace conditions” look like a mockery. In fact, they clearly define the Kremlin’s position. All the listed demands, except for the mythical threats to Russia’s security, refer wholly to Ukraine’s domestic life. The Kremlin is demonstrating that it intends to dictate to a neighbouring state how it is to live and what path of development it is to choose.

This trend was noted back under Yanukovych, who preferred Russian patronage to a European path of development for Ukraine. As a result, Yanukovych lost power and Ukraine lost Crimea.

More than likely, the Kremlin understands perfectly well that the conditions advanced are unfeasible. But this is no disaster. It might even be exactly what they were counting on. War is important to the Kremlin in and of itself, as a self-sufficient value, as a mode of existence, as a means for the even greater enslavement of its own people. A war footing, a war economy, military censorship, and martial law—how much more reliably could the dictatorship be cemented and the country’s citizens denied their hopes for freedom?

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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