Eastern Europe

Options for Ending the War in Ukraine

On the one hand, as in any war, leaders’ stubborn myths lead to more death and destruction as the war drags on. Coupled with the delusion of greatness in winning the war, they become insensitive to reason and a sense of humanity. Their only goal is to realize their fantasy world without sensible consideration of the actual reality and risks to human life and their countries. The belief that stirs passionate emotion of human bravado and aggressiveness creates a hype of mass followers. On the other hand, constructive propositions engendering a more sensible outcome result in a more tone-down emotional response with fewer mass advocates.

Let’s ponder the scenarios based on beliefs that either protract the war in Ukraine or resolve it.

Scenario One: The war as a showcase of personal accolades

The name of the game here is escalation. The new Western leaders come onto the stage to present their weapon donations to initiate larger donations. In turn, the charity earns them mass media hype accolades as donors of war and destruction. The more weapons they donate, the friendlier they are honored, and the deadlier the weapons they donate the more honorable they become. Will they also be all out singing hallelujah when the war finally turns uncontrollable and global? 

Are naïve Western leaders impulsively jumping onto a bandwagon of escalation to star on a global stage, assuming their international war accolades, may bring them more votes back home for the continuity in office as they face criticism amidst their respective national crises?  The belief that Russia and Putin must be defeated, by all means, and the opportunity has come through Zelensky, underlies the drive for robust and sustainable military empowerment of Ukraine.  By the way, is Zelensky’s call for military upgrades to defeat Russia in Ukraine also include a hidden agenda for turning Ukraine into a superpower?  Wild, powerful, and deadly escalation with no clear exit strategy is the game that Biden and NATO leaders bet on for peace. But don’t they see that more weapons equal more attacks? More attacks equal more death and destruction? Biden and NATO calculate that by escalating the war, they can utterly defeat Russia and establish their sole global military-political dominance. On the contrary, because of the escalation, now we see the solidifying of the paradigmatic Chinese-Russian alliance and the rise of a truly bipolar world. Other regional alliances are also germinating.

There are three possible outcomes of the escalation approach. One is very hot, courtesy of the extra-hot lunacy of leaders—it’s called global catastrophe!  Another is hot, which can easily turn very hot, it’s called a regional catastrophe! The other two are sweet and sour. The sour—is the rise of a dysfunctional and multipolar world frozen in a cold war.  The sweet though is—the emergence of a new harmonious multipolar world, with politically independent niches yet economically and culturally interconnected. Wake up, leaders! Whatever outcome your reason and sense of humanity passionately direct you—an exit strategy is needed. The sitz em liben will push you out if you don’t have one. And the escalators will lose and be denunciated!

Is US-NATO apprehensive that in the absence of conflict and war in Europe, they will  become insignificant and also lose their multibillion-dollar military industry? Is Zelensky anxious that when the war is done, his and Ukraine’s celebrity status in the global state will also dissipate?  Didn’t Russia in 2018, trimmed down its military budget signaling a focus other than war?  By the way, with their kindred soul, are not Europeans better off resolving their conflicts with decency and diplomacy instead of acting as pawns of a foreign superpower? Or if needed, be mediated by a third party whom they respect and have mutual interests?

But what are the goals of the escalation? The utter destruction of Ukraine, then the absolute defeat of Russia, to pave the way for the sole dominance of US-NATO in Europe, then the world?  For rational considerations, the US cannot govern the whole world. Its foreign policies and practices are partisan, lobbyist-influenced, and always changing depending on who is in power. It cannot even cope with its crucial national issues, more so coping with the whole gamut of global issues confronting the well-being and future of humanity. The conflict in Ukraine came to this tragic point because either it was irresponsibly allowed, or strategically encouraged, to escalate. Now that it has escalated to war only lunacy says escalation can bring peace. The key to peace is not escalation but de-escalation!

Scenario Two: The conscientization of war

The strategy here is to de-escalate the war through strategic arm support suspension, toning down the rhetoric of war, and engaging in intermediary diplomacy with the intention of a ceasefire. Realizing that more weapons do not resolve the conflict and bring peace, other world leaders with awakened reason and a sense of humanity, step onto the global podium to facilitate transforming the scenario of war into a scenario of sensible diplomacy.  The goal is for both parties to de-escalate!

The suspension of weapons support can tone down Zelensky’s rhetoric of war and calm down Putin’s combat spirit. Besides, to attack further an unempowered Ukraine can backlash on Putin.  And even Russians cannot celebrate a victory in a power-imbalanced war for that will be humiliating conquest.  Imagine when new leaders of peace pop up and boldly promote the mutual reduction of weapons used in war, decreasing attacks, downsizing front lines, establishing a safe zone, allowing peace monitoring, then strategically moving toward a ceasefire. Ceasefire can offer both breathing spaces for all stakeholders to think rationally and sensibly.  The war has taken a heavy toll on both parties.  Earlier Putin already expressed his willingness to negotiate but Zelensky does not. It appears that Zelensky would like the world to believe that anyone wanting peace resolution is an enemy of Ukraine. Is the world hypnotized by him? The only hindrance to de-escalation and the peace process is ideological authoritarianism—that is, there is only one valid belief on the war in Ukraine.  And that belief is based only on Zelensky’s story. Those who have a different view are hated and excommunicated.  The world that hates dictatorship has fallen prey to it.

The refusal to de-escalate and engage in diplomacy made me wonder about some issues

related to Scenario One.  Is Zelensky anxious that when the war ceased his and Ukraine’s celebrity status will also dissipate?  Are Biden, Sunak, Scholz, and others oblivious to the risks of further death and destruction in the escalation of the war? Does von der Leyen of EC foresee Ukrainian economic prosperity through ammo supply? Or are the present leaders simply engrossed in self-serving interests other than the life and future of the Ukrainians? 

Is Biden fascinated by imagined victory over Russia during his term? So he portrays himself like the senior Indiana Jones, daring and able-bodied to increase his popularity rating and sweeten his chance for re-election?  Does he not realize that he and the US are not major players in resolving the conflict but have become mere avid followers of Zelensky’s passion for war? And are subjects of Zelensky’s unpleasant criticism if they disagree with him?  If the world will explode Biden will go down in his history as the American president who allowed, encouraged, if not lured, to its horrible tragedies. Are Sunak, Scholz, and others also using the arms support reality shows to boost their public acceptance amidst their respective national predicaments? Only sensible leaders are open to the cessation of war unless driven by the paradox of glory out of the ruins. If Jimmy Carter is the president during this Russian-Ukraine conflict, I wonder how would he manage it. On the other, the crises in Ukraine offer the US and the West a grand moral opportunity to rebrand themselves as the broker of peace and prosperity in Europe and the world. A very positive and constructive rebranding of the US in our contemporary history that can be genuinely credited to Biden. The urgent issue is not about marketing the war, it’s about resolving it.

Isn’t de-escalation more helpful than escalation?  US Republican congressman Paul Gosar and senator JD Vance think so. So were the thirty Democrat Representatives urging Biden last year for a diplomatic solution. The Chinese and the Hungarians have also been initiating peaceful and diplomatic solutions. De-escalation can lead to a ceasefire, and a ceasefire can allow breathing space for both sides to think rationally and sensibly and envision, instead of short-term glory, a long-term mutual progress. Enough of Zelensky delusion of greatness and Biden’s aging reason and sensibility. What the world needs now is a rational, sensible, and diplomatic solution to the conflict before it conflagrates further. The focus is not on who wins the war, as in childhood rivalries. It’s about serious matters of saving lives and countries, preventing regional and even global catastrophe, while also ensuring that there is still a brighter future left for the Ukrainians. The world has so much more life to offer for those who aspire to peace.

Scenario Three: Getting over it and focusing on the economic future

The objective here is to immediately end the war through a holistic diplomatic strategy and start economic recovery through regional and global partnerships.

At the outset, there were two pre-war scenarios for Ukraine. One, Ukraine being at the border of Russia is a strategic military locus for US-NATO. This made Ukraine a possible site of an Armageddon. The other, Ukraine has a huge agricultural land, is one the largest agricultural producers in the world, and is Europe’s breadbasket. This made Ukraine a potential economic power.  Now at war, there are two choices of rhetoric Ukrainians can declare. One, “Let’s bomb and wipe them all out.” With a clenched fist and raised arms, Ukrainian warriors would declare this. But it’s easier said than done, it’s very risky, and a devastating fantasy. The other, “Let’s get over with war, and like Japan in WWII, pick up our broken pieces, rebuild our country, and show the world that Ukraine can be an economic powerhouse.” With a hand on their heart and eyes of hope looking up above, enterprising Ukrainian nation-builders (including farmers) would proclaim this. And it’s here where Ukrainians can see the outpouring of true friendship and real constructive partnership to give them hope for a better future.

Even before the war, Ukraine was tagged as the poorest country in Europe due to high corruption. And it is getting more bankrupt now. But aside from its leading agricultural status, it has rich mineral deposits and growing industries from chemical, aerospace, and shipbuilding.  In 2012 Ukraine’s largest trading partner was Russia, then EU in 2015. However, Ukraine’s biggest import was also natural gas from Russia.

Shifting a to a similar, although grander past during the height of the Cold War, Khrushchev did visit the US and had a diplomatic meeting with Eisenhower.  Brezhnev did have an amicable negotiation with both Nixon and Carter.  Nixon and Brezhnev even constructively dealt with common interests and concerns like science and technology, education, culture, public health, and environment and signed a joint diplomatic Declaration of Basic Principles of Mutual Relations. They did it as leader-to-leader and as mature, sensible, and pragmatic persons.  Now, can’t kin on their right mind and sense of humanity, do it?  If awkward, probably a liaison team may do—a small team of figures representing countries and institutions that both parties respect, don’t want to antagonize, and are regarded as necessary partners for political stability and economic progress.  The war in Ukraine needs to be mediated by a third party whose power both parties cannot ignore because it could threaten the integrity of their leadership personae.  

A Personal Story

Years before migrating to Canada, while teaching social science in a state university, I was also appointed by the Board of Regents as Executive Assistant for External Affairs. For quite some time, the land dispute between the federal university and the provincial government protracted.  Both parties were adamant about their respective beliefs of land ownership despite legal and historical ambiguities. 

With my previous experience as clergy, I liaised between the two. Then I discovered that if the dispute is unsettled, the province will lose its substantial foreign aid to build the much-needed provincial sports gymnasium; and the university will lose its overseas donation for its research center aside from the risk of losing its cultural center. The province insisted that it owned the location of the university cultural center and the only available lot inside the campus for the research center, but the university disagreed.  The university claimed ownership of the vacant swampy land adjacent to the campus identified as the site of the gymnasium, but the province objected.

When both parties realized their mutual needs, the rhetoric of animosity subsided, and discussions became sensible. Both parties agreed to stop the litigation, listened to each other, clarified ambiguities, and pragmatically focused on mutually meeting their essential needs. A fresh and optimistic solicitor general came to draft the terms and conditions. In the end, the province had the vacant swampy land and the university had the two lots. It was a grand exhilarating day witnessing the signing of the agreement. 

Today stands the provincial gym, the site of many provincial, regional, and national sports events. And the research centers that pursue academic progress and development, and the cultural center, where many events (university, city and region) were held, became uncontestably owned by the university.  Both ended up benefiting from the amicable and compromised agreement and even helping each other deal with common issues like preserving the university forest reserves to other mutually beneficial endeavors.


Immediate arm-race reduction, prompt de-escalation, and calculated end of hostilities, coupled with a mutual, amicable, and compromise agreement, plus binding mutual and multilateral commitments for infrastructural, economic, social, and cultural reconstruction (similar Japan-US cooperations after WWII)—to serve the greater purpose for the common good of their people and the region—is the noblest and most memorable thing to do for the war to end!

Alan Delotavo, PhD

Alan Delotavo, Ph.D. (University of Pretoria), is a freelance writer and researcher from Canada. He was an assistant professor in social science and a former clergyman before becoming secular. He has a background in interdisciplinary anthropological studies, religion, and ethics and has presented scholarly papers at international conferences. Alan is presently focusing on alternative socio-political analysis and societal rebranding.

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