If miracles happen, Xi Jinping would manage to bring Zelensky and Putin together on a Ukraine peace plan.
It would be welcomed by India, Global South, Middle East and even Europe, running low as the last-named is on ammunitions and the patience of its citizens.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has already visited Beijing; French president Emmanuel Macron is due soon enough; and China’s reputation as a peace-broker is vouched by two most unlikely neighbours on either side of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
I know we could be cynical but let’s look at it this way: A time would come when negotiations would happen. Parties would sit across the table, a UN Security Council resolution would guarantee it, to be registered under the UN Charter. And it’s also given that one or the other party would have a better deal.
And that’s because all conflicts throw up one or the other in the driver’s seat.
We know a large part of Ukraine is already with Russia; that the cream of Ukrainian forces have been wiped out; that what’s appearing in print bears no relation to the footprints of men or munitions on ground; that the best option for Ukraine is to salvage whatever it could, more so when China is offering hand in its reconstruction.
The carnage must stop; the utter ruin of Ukraine be prevented; and the humanity be saved from a potential nuclear blow-out.
But then America hates peace.
President Joe Biden has bitterly said that he hasn’t seen if the peace plan is “beneficial to anyone other than Russia..”
“It’s the idea that China is going to be negotiating the outcome of a war that’s a totally unjust war for Ukraine is just not rational,” Biden said. (Could Ukraine decide that please.)
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, has said the administration does not “support calls for a ceasefire right now.”
We have heard US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin say the war must go on to “weaken Russia.”
Peace, you see, is hated by the United States.
It wasn’t there when a coup was engineered in Kiev in 2014; it wasn’t in Minsk Agreements which were just a ruse; it wasn’t when Russia fervently sought peace without claim on an inch on Donbass before it put its boots on the ground last year; it wasn’t when Turkey tried to play a peace-broker; or before Boris Johnson guided Ukraine out of negotiating table.
In the intervening period, nearly two lakh Ukrainian have died; its economy has gone up in smoke, and millions have fled the homeland.
But then America doesn’t want peace.
It can’t see Europe getting its energy from Russia; it can’t reconcile if Europe blooms with the integration of Eurasian landmass that China, and India, are intent upon; it can’t see Russia survive even if Putin doesn’t.
It now has its man in Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida in Kiev, hours after he was enjoying golagappas with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, to do its bidding.
Both Zelensky and the West are hoping against hope: Even their trusted media is giving up on their chances in the Ukraine Conflict.
Sample this from the Washington Post (compressed for space here): “Ukrainian army stands degraded now; there is basic shortage of ammunition; and that the soldiers with combat experience are either dead or wounded.”
Further, “An Ukrainian official says the tanks promised by the West is only`symbolic’; `we don’t have people or weapons’; `we are on the frontline and we have nothing to shoot with; `the newly-drafted soldiers just drop everything and run when under fire’; or are afraid to leave the trenches.”
And this from the New York Times, no less: “Russian forces are attacking along a 160-mile arc in eastern Ukraine; in Bakhmut, Wagner Group has seized control of the eastern side of the city; in other areas, Russia has stepped up shelling; the control of roads and rails that Kremlin considers so important to its goals…”
The West sure has hi-tech weapons but is afraid to supply: What if it falls into Russian hands; what if it triggers a nuclear war which Ukrainians won’t mind initiating at this stage?
That Zelensky hasn’t rejected Xi’s proposal could be a ploy to buy-out time; not to say to cause panic among its Western allies who’ve emptied themselves on funds or arms. This is a war for which the West prepared for eight long years; now if the peace was to happen through China’s initiative, it would be akin to death a million times over.
The West would have other reasons to hold its breath over what transpires between Xi and Putin in Moscow over the next few hours.
It’s not that the two giant neighbours would announce a new digital currency as an alternative to recently mauled dollar.
The image of Xi and Putin together has a symbolic value of rallying the non-Western world against the US hegemony, 40 of whom, the African leaders, were in Moscow just a day ago, delighted no doubt that Russia has decided to waive off $20 billion of their debts.
Peace would be a humiliation for the United States, not that Vietnam wasn’t or Afghanistan wasn’t or Saudi Arabia-Iran handshake through China isn’t more recently.
We are presently in the most tumultuous times in human history of the last few centuries when the dominance of Anglo-Saxon bloc could be coming to an end.
Sure, it won’t just fade away but would exact a price which the rest of humanity can’t escape.