Russia's Colonial Intentions in Ukraine: Should Ukraine Accept Any Peace?

Should Ukraine accept any peace deal, or must it prioritize justice and sovereignty over a potentially fragile and unjust resolution?

by Sededin Dedovic
Russia's Colonial Intentions in Ukraine: Should Ukraine Accept Any Peace?
© Carl Court / Getty Images

How would you respond to this question? Imagine for a moment something unlikely: you are in charge of deciding the terms of peace in Ukraine, and you have two choices. The first choice: You could establish peace immediately, but under the following conditions: Russia would retain the territory it illegally seized from Ukraine, there would be no punishment for war crimes, and it would not have to pay reparations for the damage the war caused to Ukrainian factories, schools, hospitals, museums, educational institutions, and critical infrastructure.

The second choice: Peace does not occur until provisions for reparations, war crime trials, and the return of all stolen territory are made. Personally, I would lean towards the first choice, writes war reporter and publicist Mici Perdue in an analysis for CEPA.

But after hearing the response of UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis, I now see the question differently. Francis answered the question by saying that there is a short-term and long-term way to examine this issue.

In the short term, the blessings of peace are invaluable: people are not killed or injured, property and infrastructure are not destroyed, and the flow of refugees is slowed or stopped. With peace, Ukraine can begin to rebuild, people can start investing in health and education and a better future.

There are few greater blessings than the blessing of peace. I thought Francis would choose the first option. After all, he is the President of the United Nations General Assembly, and the purpose of the organization is to maintain and foster peace.

I expected him to give some version of “Peace at any cost, just get to peace!” However, he said something less expected and more interesting. In his opinion, the big, long-term issue is what he calls the “problem of impunity”.

When there is no punishment for a country that invades its neighbor, what will deter the next country from simply entering and taking from its neighbor any land, ports, rivers, factories, and other resources?

Crimea Recognised As Sovereign State By Putin© Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

In fact, the absence of penalties for violating international laws and norms becomes a green light for others who wish to do the same.

This would allow bullies in the world to exploit weaker countries. It would be a world where might makes right, as opposed to a system based on rules and law. The immediate consequence is that nations would respond to a lawless international environment by spending more money on weapons, much more than they do today.

With the lesson of Russia's open aggression paying dividends, both likely aggressors and their targets would have huge incentives to threaten or deter, and it is very possible they would move toward nuclear, chemical, biological, and cyber weapons.

The risk of wars could increase exponentially. Another consequence of a more anarchic world would be less cooperation on global issues, such as climate change, health crises, and economic development. This would very likely threaten food availability, something critical for all eight billion of us.

Wars mean crops are not planted, harvested, or transported where they are needed. With less food, prices rise. In an anarchic world, for millions, if not billions of people, food could become unaffordable or even unavailable at any cost.

This in turn creates political upheavals. The choice between achieving immediate peace and maintaining a rules-based global order is full of complexity. The seemingly simple choice for quick peace must be balanced with the enduring principle of accountability, which is necessary to maintain international stability and prevent future conflicts.

Peace built on injustice may ultimately prove fragile and transient. Such peace, without deterring future aggressors, could guarantee more war and more suffering.

The Kremlin's Colonial Intent

Calls to end the war based on the current military positions of the two countries, defined by the perceived stalemate, are growing day by day.

Many of these calls focus on ceding Ukrainian territory to satisfy Russian desires, which could lead to a temporary cessation of fighting. But focusing solely on the military situation leaves an incomplete picture of why peace between the two countries would not be achieved.

The most significant consideration is that Russia is engaging in a colonial war against Ukraine. Russian officials and media have also framed the war through the lens of Russian nationalism. Russia's memory of World War II adds another layer by mixing the Soviet experience with the Russian experience.

In this way, the Kremlin seeks to foster claims that Russia is fighting World War II through its efforts to “denazify” Ukraine. As Ukrainians have become more united in defending their country, Russia has thrown more weight into its efforts to destroy Ukraine.

The terrorist bombing of Ukrainian cities and the violence committed by Russian forces against civilians demonstrate the true colonial intent of the Kremlin.

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