Guest article in Die Presse, Vienna 24/02/24
No peace treaty should be imposed on Ukraine on Moscow’s or Beijing’s terms
By Otmar Lahodynsky
China’s peace plan announced for today 24/02/23) is eagerly awaited. The regime in Beijing has so far avoided taking a clear position on Russia’s war of aggression, merely cautiously criticising Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons.
Otherwise, China’s President Xi Jinping has repeatedly declared his support for his friend Putin. Only he has not supplied him with weapons, or not yet. And China’s chief diplomat Wang Yi recently praised the two sides’ relations in Moscow as “rock solid” and criticised the USA as a warmonger.
Beijing will thus demand more willingness to compromise from the leadership in Kiev than from Putin. Much like the resolution of Alice Schwarzer and Sarah Wagenknecht, who demand a stop to arms deliveries to Ukraine and the start of peace negotiations.
War fatigue is growing in the EU and the fear of nuclear war is rising. Many states also did not want to fully support yesterday’s resolution at the UN General Assembly for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and a peace solution for Ukraine.
In Kiev, under such conditions, imposed negotiations are rejected as a capitulation to the aggressor, who occupies one fifth of Ukraine’s territory and continues to destroy the country’s infrastructure with missiles. On top of that, there are tens of thousands of casualties among soldiers and civilians, as well as proven war crimes by the Russian army.
“We are ready to negotiate the terms of the withdrawal of Russian troops from our territory,” a senior diplomat at the foreign ministry in Kiev told me. “But we will not give up a single part of our territory.”
Ukraine had been willing to negotiate the ceding of some territory in the Donbass or Crimea shortly after the war began, but that was now out of the question.
This also applies to the original demand from Moscow that Ukraine should not join NATO. In fact, in the course of his war, which began in violation of international law, Putin has created facts that make negotiations difficult or even impossible.
He has annexed several oblasts in Ukraine to the Russian Federation. He denied statehood to Ukraine and sees the country as “historical territories” that have been wrested from Russia by the West.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Austria, Vasyl Khymynets , has named three conditions for a peace resolution: Withdrawal of the Russian army from the whole of Ukraine, reparation payments by Russia for the damage caused, and indictment of those responsible, including Putin, by an international tribunal.
In other words, unacceptable demands for Moscow.
Russia is in any case in a better situation than Ukraine. It has more weapons and more soldiers. And a withdrawal of its troops does not call Russia’s continued existence into question, at most Putin’s power. Ukraine, on the other hand, will forfeit its existence as an independent, democratic state if there is a forced peace treaty on Moscow’s terms.