Giorgia Meloni urges India to be peacemaker in Ukraine
The Italian PM argued that Narendra Modi could play a central role
At a G20 summit in India at the end of last week, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made a statement that would have drawn the attention of Ukraine’s Western allies. Speaking in New Dehli, the PM said that she hoped her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “can play a central role in facilitating negotiations towards a ceasefire and a just peace” in Ukraine during India’s G20 presidency this year.
Meloni’s decision to talk about negotiations marked a significant departure from the usual Western insistence on clear Ukrainian victory. It was doubly surprising given that, notwithstanding deep divides on the issue within her coalition government, Meloni is one of the West’s staunchest Ukraine backers.
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More striking still was her choice to highlight India’s potential role as a peacemaker. India refuses to condemn the invasion, last month abstaining from a UN resolution calling on Russia to “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its forces from the territory of Ukraine.”
Perhaps Meloni was acknowledging that if there is ever to be a negotiated settlement, it will have to be brokered by a non-Western power that has played a more neutral role during the war. This may pose fresh problems as political momentum for peace negotiations quietly builds. A potential defence pact for Ukraine, floated by the UK and backed by Germany and France, has been interpreted as an attempt to make Kyiv consider possible terms for negotiations; discussing the proposal, a French official cited fears of a forever war as “no one believes they will be able to retrieve Crimea”.
Even hawkish European leaders express similar doubts. Czech President-elect Petr Pavel got into a heated exchange with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at last month’s Munich Security Conference after urging “caution in setting goals for how this conflict should play out” and warning of the dangerous potential of a “collapsed Russia”. Kuleba angrily retorted that allies must simply “trust Ukraine” to set its own war goals.
But such blind faith will become harder to sustain as European politicians are confronted with the harsh realities of public opinion on the war. A year on from the start of Russia’s invasion, a poll by German public television found that more than half of the country thinks not enough is being done to end the war through diplomatic means, while only a third of Italians are in favour of sending arms to Ukraine.
Except in the Baltic states, politicians’ dreams of Churchillian popularity stemming from their Ukraine support may, therefore, be misguided. While Estonia’s pro-Ukraine Prime Minister Kaja Kallas easily won parliamentary elections held last night, other countries are seeing the opposite phenomenon, with soaring support for isolationist parties — the favourite for snap Slovak elections to be held in September is a Left-wing populist party which is strongly opposed to Ukraine support and whose leader has been blacklisted by Kyiv as a spreader of “disinformation”.
If Ukraine can’t soon give twitchy Western politicians reason to believe that their investment in total victory will pay off, negotiations will look increasingly tempting. But as Meloni’s overtures to Modi suggest, the West may already have ruled itself out of setting the agenda if peace talks ever do take place.
A very sensible woman surely we have now reached a stage where negotiations to resove the conflict are essential. Indians or Turks would make ideal intermediaries. Between the Minsk 2014 agreement, The Russian proposed Agreement for the future of European Security and the Chinese 12 point peace plan there has to be a constructive way forward.
I suspect Russia is already at the point where negotiations are acceptable. In war, the present lines of control will form the baseline for any negotiation. Pre-War borders will mean comparatively less. Thus, at present, any peace negotiation would necessarily favor Russia. Russia controls a quarter of Ukraine, which they will not be inclined to give back in a negotiation unless the other side gives something else up in return. Ukraine, on the other hand, still believes it is possible to retake some or all of this territory. So long as this remains true, they have no reason to negotiate. Moreover, most of the meaningful military support has come from the US. What they’re getting from European nations is important, but it has been mostly secondhand stuff that European nations bought from the US years or decades ago. It can easily be duplicated or bettered by the US if they so choose. It is, thus, almost irrelevant what Europe provides. They could cut off their spigot only for the US to open theirs slightly wider and Ukraine could end up better off for the exchange. Only a change in the political climate of the US or a defeat that convinces Ukraine’s leadership that retaking more territory is unrealistic will encourage them to accept any peace negotiations. European politics won’t move the needle unless the opposition to the war becomes so loud that it creates problems for the US, who is, realistically speaking, the only party other than Ukraine and Russia who have a say in the matter.
The first condition for successful peace talks is both sides stating they are intent on victory. That establishes the baseline from which they will make concessions. The second condition is both sides refusing to accept any conditions to the talks. That maximises the concessions they can make in negotiations. The third condition is that talks take place in complete secrecy. That minimises partisan interference deraiIling the negotiations. The fourth condition is that both parties participate with authority to commit and they commit simultaneously. Otherwise both sides risk their commitment moving their baseline against them.
It is difficult but not impossible. A public negotiation creates a pride of authorship in negotiators that will often create a deadlock.
Neither side will begin negotiations until at least the summer.
Putin will cling to his maximalist goals until soundly beaten. Ukraine is hoarding its best troops for a spring offensive (which can only begin after the rasputitsa ends, and the ground becomes firm again). Then we’ll see whether Putin has squandered his new troops, or enough of them have survived, and are still willing to fight.
Negotiations are not a magic wand that suddenly brings peace. They can never reflect anything other than facts on the ground.
But right now no one knows just what those facts will be in six months time.
Sadly, we will only know after more fighting.
All picked from the Telegraph. Ukraine cant win dear boy.
Uncle Sam (that supposed defender of democracy) wants a forever war in Ukraine. US arm manufactures are loving it and their people in both parties will ensure it carries on.
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