Dr. Salem Al Ketbi
Dr. Salem Al KetbiCourtesy

The media is talking about China’s 12-point peace initiative or plan to end the crisis in Ukraine. And about its brokering the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to become a world power replacing the USA, but the Ukraine War is the current crisis and what happens there may be a foretaste of what is to come.

Newsweek magazine confirmed that the Chinese plan includes lifting sanctions on Russia and supporting the sovereignty of both Russia and Ukraine, nuclear safety, and other issues. The question that arises in this context is the likelihood of success of this plan.

There are several factors to consider. The first is the extent to which the West will accept the Chinese plan, regardless of its content, even as a basis for dialogue. Here we can tell that the USA will not practically accept the Chinese proposal on the Ukrainian crisis.

Washington is skeptical of Chinese support for Russia in its war against Ukraine, so we can assume that it does not consider Beijing entitled to act as a mediator. The leaked Chinese plan, however, has to do with the lifting of Western sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and some 37 of its allies over the crisis.

But it is not only about the Russian sanctions.

Washington will see the Chinese proposal as a move to push its own agenda on the issue of unilateral sanctions not imposed by a UN resolution, which generally aims to strengthen China’s strategic influence internationally and pave the way to undermine this mechanism that the West banks on in its relations with many actors such as Russia, Iran, North Korea and others.

Another point of contention comes from the Western point of view. It is about respect for the sovereign borders of countries without solving the issue of Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine. This point is in line with the constants of China’s foreign policy, based on respect for the sovereignty of states.

It also fits in with Russia’s position that a large part of Ukraine is within Russia’s sovereign borders. Russia has already formally annexed part of this territory, notwithstanding the West’s unwillingness to recognize it. Overall, the Chinese proposal is not the first of its kind in this connection.

There is a proposal by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russia has not responded to it, because it provides for returning the entire Ukrainian territory and for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva has also made proposals, which Russia has confirmed through Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin that it is looking into.

But it is clear that Moscow remains committed to the issue of development on the ground and is signaling a principal interest in the Ukrainian territories it controls, so that this commitment must be permanent or can later be the subject of mutual negotiations and concessions within the framework of the agreement reached with the West.

Russia, too, is not answering to the mediators who have proved to be allies of the West in the Ukrainian crisis, obvious. The West is following the same logic. Regardless of the effectiveness of these initiatives and proposals, they may represent valuable approaches in the search for a way out of a crisis that has marked its first year with no clear end in sight.

Therefore, the efforts of international powers and parties to resolve the crisis can be a lifeline for both sides. Everyone knows that a war must come to an end; relying on one side to exhaust the forces and resources of the other will not lead to the expected results. Russia and the Western countries supporting Ukraine have enormous resources to keep the conflict going.

Both sides have a desire to achieve a decisive or tactical military victory, and they also realize that sooner or later it will be vital to come to the negotiating table. But initiatives and proposals, whether they come from China, Brazil or other countries, constitute a serious effort to find a way out of the crisis.

The war losses for which many in the world are paying the price are not on one side without the other. Assuming Russia’s military victory, the West will find itself at a strategic juncture never before seen in its recent history. But Russia will not remain secure, and especially not economically stable.

If Ukraine succeeds in pushing back Russia militarily, it will not continue on its path as a secure and stable country and will not return to the world stage as it was economically, politically, and industrially before the war years and perhaps decades ago. Moreover, the West will continue to bear the heavy bill of this war.

The worst-case scenario in this crisis is that the conflict drags on despite casualties because one side is unable to achieve a complete military victory over the other. Such a possibility is real to a considerable degree.

The West is more and more determined to humiliate the Russian army which will not accept a defeat or even a tactical rout, as happened to the Soviet army in Afghanistan, even if it means resorting to weapons of mass destruction.

All this makes it all the more important for international and regional powers to maintain their efforts and coordination to urge the conflicting parties to sit down at the negotiating table for a way out of a complex and seemingly never-ending situation.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst.