Peace Remains Elusive To Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The Russia-Ukraine conflict may broach the third year mark, with various peace seeking measures facing obdurate opposition from both sides, which additionally shows the inefficacy and miscalculations of the west-led peace overtures

By Dr Mathew Sinu Simon


Russia-Ukraine conflict appears not to be ending soon, with peace lingering in the shadows. In a choreographed televised year-end address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there would be peace in Ukraine only when the goals of Russia were achieved. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky rejected talks for peace despite the difficult situation the Ukrainian army is facing.  According to former Indian Ambassador to Russian Federation, DB Venkatesh Verma, the Russia-Ukraine war represents a failure of big power deterrence on account of miscalculations based on questions of capability, credibility, and communication on part of both Russia and the United States.

Since 2014, when an insurrection in Kyiv, Ukraine unseated the incumbent President, relations between Russia and Ukraine were tense but subsequent opportunities for a peaceful resolution receded as Ukraine swung decisively towards the West. War was not inevitable but opportunities for peace were lost by both sides – the 2015 Minsk Accords, during the first year of President Zelensky’s term, the Biden-Putin Geneva Summit of June 2021, Russian proposals on European Security of December 2021 and the abortive Russia- Ukraine Peace talks of March-April 2022 were rejected on the advice of the UK and the US.

US, NATO and EU – Three Musketeers for Ukraine

The United States is by far the largest contributor of arms to Ukraine. US released the final aid package of 25 million dollars to Ukraine amidst the Senate refusal and dissent to further fund the war. The latest package includes air defence, artillery and small arms ammunition, and anti-tank weapons. US is sending 31 Abram Tanks, dispatching 90 Stryker’s (armoured fighting vehicles), has donated Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and provided the Patriot missile system to Ukraine.

The Russia-Ukraine war represents a failure of big power deterrence on account of miscalculations based on questions of capability, credibility, and communication

There has been politics and history of discontentment in US domestic politics with regards to funding, military support and assistance to conflicts abroad as evidenced from Vietnam War to the present Gaza conflict. US is facing an uphill task of providing military assistance to Israel and Ukraine at the same time. Supporting Ukraine in its war for long and pointing out Russia, as the aggressor may not appease domestic voters in the upcoming US Presidential elections when larger issues of ailing economy, and gun-inflicted violence remain partially unaddressed.

Ensuring security of Ukraine is of great importance to NATO and its member states. The Alliance fully support Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence, and its right to choose its own security arrangements. Ukraine’s future is in NATO. Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of the most substantial of NATO’s partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, NATO and Allies have provided unprecedented levels of support to Ukraine.

European Union stands united with Ukraine. EU has imposed sanctions to cripple Russia’s ability to finance the war amidst lone voice of dissent from Hungary. EU has pledged to phase out Russian fuel imports including natural gas.  A clear signal is that of EU initiating accession negotiations with Ukraine. According to EU data as of November 2023, EU and member state’s support to Ukraine totals over €67 billion in military, financial, humanitarian, and emergency assistance and reaches over €84 billion when EU funding to Ukrainian refugees is also included. As bitter, hard, long winter goes by, Russia would only like to prolong the war and put in Ukraine in a defensive mode. The Russian strategy of attrition of its troops and lacklustre Ukraine counter-offensive campaign had put the conflict in a stalemate mode.

The US released the final aid package of 25 million dollars to Ukraine amidst the Senate refusal and dissent to further fund the war

Defence tactics and strategies in the conflict

Russia and Ukraine have adopted a flurry of eclectic approaches, tactics and strategies during the conflict that may extend three years, and counting. Ukrainian forces, especially after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, have adapted to guerrilla tactics. Ukraine has relied on diplomatic efforts to garner support from Western countries and international organisations, seeking aid in terms of sanctions against Russia and military assistance. Despite resource crunch, Ukraine has endeavoured to modernise its military, investing in new equipment, training, and fortifications along its eastern border.

Russia on the other hand has employed a mix of conventional military tactics, irregular warfare, cyber-attacks, and information warfare to achieve its objectives. Russia has supported separatist groups in eastern Ukraine, providing them with military equipment, training, and logistical support. Russia has used propaganda and disinformation campaigns to shape narratives and influence public opinion both domestically and internationally. Russia has used its geopolitical leverage, such as controlling energy supplies, intimidating the West with use of nuclear weapons, to apply pressure on Ukraine and influence its decisions.

Not an Era of War

As rightly spoken by Indian Foreign Minister, S. Jaishankar, India has rightly said that problems of Europe are not problems of the world. India’s diplomatic approach to the Russia-Ukraine war has been one of pragmatic prudence, even while recognising the unpredictable nature of war gains in an interconnected world, with Prime Minister Modi saying that it is not an era of war.

Ensuring security of Ukraine is of great importance to NATO, and it fully supports Ukraine’s inherent right to self-defence, and the right to choose its own security arrangements

Indian diplomacy achieved the difficult task of bringing back over 20,000 Indian students from Ukraine, many of them from active war zones through Operation Ganga. While India has not condemned Russia for the invasion, it has highlighted its broader consequences on energy, food and fertilisers and the global disequilibrium that the war has produced and of particular concern to the Global South. As Russia-Ukraine conflict perpetuates, diplomacy in forms of humanitarian pauses and ceasefire must come to shape, in order to reduce the on-going heavy casualties as a result of the conflict. In this regard, India can play the key role of a mediator given its close proximity to both Russia and Ukraine.

-The writer is researcher at Schumacher Centre, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect that of Raksha Anirveda