Much like Humpty Dumpty, who had a great fall and broke into so many pieces that “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again,” no one has been able to put Ukraine back together again.
February 24th marked the first anniversary of the start of the war, and as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted in his address to the General Assembly, he does not want to be standing there again next year marking the second anniversary — it should be settled through dialogue, and soon, through a satisfactory plan.
In his wake, the deputy leader of the Chinese mission to the UN claimed China did have such a plan. And Vlolodomyr Zelenskyy the Ukraine president has now expressed a desire to meet with the Chinese over it.
In truth, the war has been ongoing since 2014, when pro-Russian rebels, in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donetsk and Luhansk, broke away to declare independence from Ukraine, and to form the peoples’ republics of DPR and LPR. Although Russia has recognized them as independent states, the West does not.
More than 14,000 people have died since the fighting erupted there with Russia sending weapons and troops to support the rebels. The troops who did not wear identifying insignia allowed the Russians deniability, and the claim that the men were not soldiers but volunteers who had gone there to support their Russian brethren. The issue is, of course, now moot given the Russian full-scale invasion.
With President Biden urging greater help for Ukraine and the Russian leader hinting at other means (meaning nuclear weapons) at their disposal, the conflict has the frightening possibility of escalation — a kind of domino effect reminiscent of the start of the First World War, except this time an armageddon given the nuclear weapons in their arsenals.
The Chinese plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, abandoning the cold war mentality (a hit at the US), resolving the humanitarian crisis, reducing strategic risks, protecting civilians and prisoners of war, keeping supply chains stable, promoting post-conflict reconstruction, and of course resuming the peace dialogue.
China was promptly attacked in the West as not being neutral given that it had signed a friendship treaty with Russia and that it had refused to condemn Russia for the invasion in a UN vote. The misplaced logic of the two points did not occur to these critics.
They used to say some decades ago that the US ‘will fight the Vietnam war to the last Vietnamese’. Now that could not possibly apply to the Ukraine war, or could it? Let’s hope not.