Russian President Vladimir Putin has greatly accelerated the scope of the conflict by choosing a full-scale military invasion. It is a very dangerous development than can and quite frankly will likely escalate regionally and perhaps globally.
Putin has additionally reminded and warned western leaders that Russia maintains a vast nuclear arsenal and is willing to use it should western nations intervene in his assault on Ukraine. While Western leaders were certainly as well aware of Russia’s nuclear capabilities as Russia and Putin are of the West’s nuclear arsenal Putin’s warning did raise serious concerns about his mental stability.
A Resumption of Negotiations is Essential
Regardless of what US officials and news outlets say, Western nations have found myriad reasons to reject direct talks with the Russians. Whether those reasons were good or bad, justified or unjustified is immaterial, the process of deescalation demands direct face-to-face talks. In that, the threat is immediate, the timing of the talks must be immediate as well. It is not a question geopolitical chess, it is a question of security for humanity.
Russian officials have opened the door to face-to-face negotiations. They are suggesting talks be held in Minsk, Belarus. Belarus is an active participant in the current conflict, a staging ground for the Russian assault on Ukraine. Under international norms talks based in a nation actively engaged in the conflict are considered a non-starter. However nothing prevents NATO officials from offering another location as an alternative. Helsinki, Finland for example might easily be acceptable to all parties.
NATO, Russia and Ukraine must participate in direct talks, even if those talks appear to have little chance of quick success initially. The Russians say they are willing to talk, NATO officials must be willing to assemble a delegation, immediately. The US and NATO are protagonists in this drama too, not just Russia. Pressure must be brought to bear on all parties to begin talks.
The Danger of Dramatic Escalation
How wide is a border? On one side of the Polish-Ukrainian border the Russian military is trying to crush the Ukrainian government, on the other side NATO troops, mostly US armed forces watch and wait. They are ordered not to fire unless fired upon. That order is all that stands between a Russian assault on Ukraine and a conflict that has the potential to spiral into a global catastrophe.
To be blunt, the west talks about the importance of freedom and democracy, the Ukrainians are showing the world how to die for it. After Ukraine falls, if it falls, Russia’s guns will be pointed directly NATO member nations. The time is now for Western leaders to support Ukraine, as one of their own and press for peace.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.