Ukraine War at 2-Year Mark With No End in Sight

Despite Ukraine’s loss of Avdiivka, neither Zelensky nor his ministers are making any effort to revive peace talks or seek a political resolution to the conflict, writes Abdul Rahman.

Avdiivka after Russian rocket strike on May 23, 2023. (Donetsk Regional Military Civil Administration, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

By Abdul Rahman
Peoples Dispatch

Speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference last weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky refused to entertain any idea of peace talks and instead sought more weapons and financial support from his Western allies to “defeat [Vladimir] Putin.”

Zelensky was speaking days after his country’s forces withdrew from Avdiivka, an important town located a few kilometers away from Donetsk city. Russia’s subsequent occupation of the town was perhaps its biggest breakthrough since May 2023 when its forces captured Bakhmut.

The loss of Avdiivka came as the war completes two years today, Feb. 24, and amid a decline in the West’s support for Ukraine which has been key to its sustaining a defense against Russia.

The war began after Russia declared support to Ukraine’s Donbass republics which had declared independence after the 2014 U.S.-backed coup in Kiev and the war the coup-regime launched against the resisting Russian-speaking minorities.

Russia has also accused NATO of using Ukraine to challenge its security. According to the U.N., the war has killed over 10,000 civilians and forced millions to flee their homes in Ukraine.

Zelensky accused the West of “keeping Ukraine in an artificial deficit of weapons, particularly in deficit of artillery and long-range capabilities,” allowing Russia to “adapt to the current intensity of the war.” 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal repeated the need for more weapons during his visit to Japan on the eve of the war anniversary, specifically asking for more long-range missiles from his country’s Western allies. The West has already supplied several lethal offensive weapons, including fighter jets, to Ukraine.

What is missing in all this rhetoric and demands by Zelensky and his ministers is any call or proposal to revive peace talks or seek a political resolution to the conflict.

No Path to Peace

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visiting Avdiivka on Dec. 29, 2023. (President Of Ukraine, Wikimedia Commons, CC0)

During the Munich conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and reiterated his country’s support for a negotiated settlement of disputes. However, reports indicated that China refused Ukraine’s invitation to attend a conference in Switzerland noting, that Russia has not been invited.

There has been no negotiation between Ukraine and Russia since the West  forced Ukraine to withdraw from talks in April 2022.

China submitted a 12-point peace proposal in February 2023 focusing on bilateral talks, along with suspension of West’s arms supplies to Ukraine and withdrawal of sanctions against Russia.

However, Ukraine has maintained that there won’t be any talks with Russia until it withdraws from all Ukrainian territories and faces trials for war crimes. It has also rejected several other peace proposals submitted by countries last year, including one by the African Union.

Reacting to Ukraine’s insistence on not inviting it to the proposed peace summit in Switzerland, Russia maintained that any summit without its participation would be a futile exercise. It has also said that Ukrainian conditions for peace are unrealistic.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Western backers, the EU and the U.S., refuse to put any pressure for peace and instead are trying to maintain that they are committed to the Ukrainian cause to defeat Russia despite obvious domestic discontent.

The EU recently decided to extend its sanctions against Russia until February 2025. It is also pushing for a fresh round (13th package) of sanctions.

The EU’s decision to impose fresh sanctions overcomes strong protests from member countries such as Hungary. Several European countries have been facing popular protests, particularly from their farmers, against their government’s policies vis-a-vis Ukraine.

Farmers have been complaining that the funding of Ukraine’s war efforts and policies benefiting the country are harming their material interests at a time when they are facing income stagnation.

One such farmers’ protest at Poland’s borders with Ukraine has blockaded the flow of people and goods, prompting Zelensky to call it a sign of popular “erosion of solidarity on a daily basis.”

After much delay, the EU finally approved a $54 billion aid package to Ukraine earlier this month. The aid would be dispersed to Ukraine in the next four years.

In the U.S., which has already provided close to $80 billion in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, tough negotiations are on to get Republicans on board for a $97 billion combined aid package to various countries with $60 billion for Ukraine alone.

So far, House Republicans have maintained their opposition to the aid package despite the Senate passing the bill earlier in February.

Abdul Rahman is a correspondent for Peoples Dispatch.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.  

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

1 comment for “Ukraine War at 2-Year Mark With No End in Sight

  1. anaisanesse
    February 25, 2024 at 03:00

    Peace is obviously a dirty word for the USA. How could its MIC make profits if disputes and needs of different parties were solved by agreements? For the USA, such suggestions are cowardly, and anyway, the USA with its “vibrant democracy” like Israel, is agreement-incapable.

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