Ukraine-Russia: Twelve Proposals Towards Negotiated Peace

Article taken from this longer text by Christoph Stückelberger, President & Founder

Winning or losing or options in between? This is the painful question in the cruel war in Ukraine. Zelensky said: every war can finally only end with a negotiated solution. My following text shows twelve proposals for negotiated peace, addressed to politicians, business people, academics, NGOs, churches and multilateral institutions. The proposals are based on important inputs from experts who do not want to be listed by name due to their public positions.

1. Political Balance: Ukraine as a Bridge between Europe and Russia
2. Military Neutrality with Defense Capacity and Cyber-Peace Mechanisms
3. Power to the Regions – Towards a Ukrainian Confederation
4. An Innovative Special Status for Crimea
5. Official Languages – Ukrainian and Russian
6. Hunger as Weapon: Russia to Reopen Food Exports from Ukraine
7. Economic Package – a Multi-party Reconstruction Plan
8. Water Management for Cohabitation
9. Religious Cohabitation in an Ecumenical Spirit
10. Restart Cooperation on Higher Education and Research
11. A Solid Reconciliation Process from People to People
12. Fighting Together against Climate Change

The situation in Ukraine is dire and already has many immense negative consequences for the whole world. What are the options and are there ways for de-escalation, end of war and for peace?

The longer the war continues, the more decision-makers and people believe that there will be only a winner and a loser or potentially only losers. Various scenarios could unfold:

a) Ukraine, supported by a certain number of countries, wins and can recapture the occupied territories; Russia is defeated and plans revenge, including outside of Ukraine;
b) Russia wins and can defend occupied territories in the long run, but isolation and selected sanctions against Russia continue, but with limited short- and medium-term effect as Russia continues to benefit from substantial revenues and military reserves;
c) The two options (a and b) include a high risk of escalation, affecting neighbouring territories also beyond Ukraine or leading to the use of chemical, biological or atomic weapons with disastrous loss of life and destruction;
d) A stalemate between Ukraine and Russia happens, with a ceasefire and de facto, but not de jure, acceptance of occupied territories;
e) Legal cases are filed in the International Court, continued military incidents and financial turbulences lead to a longer period of instability and volatility.

In all these options, a long-term peace agreement seems to become less and less possible. However, in this text, we raise questions and suggest proposals to overcome the current impasses and reduce dilemmas. At the end of each military confrontation, a peace agreement is concluded, in one way or another. Also, Ukraine President Zelensky recently said that the war can finally only end with a diplomatic solution. Various plans for de-escalation have been formulated, such as by the Foreign Minister of Italy, Luigi di Maio, submitted to the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez on 18 May. It referred to four points: cease of fire, the neutrality of Ukraine, solutions for territorial questions and a security pact.

To occupy the territory of another country is a clear violation of internationally agreed conventions and of ethical values. There is no way to justify it, neither by historical or cultural nor by economic or ideological reasons. In this article, we call for negotiations in order to reduce the risk of unpredictable disastrous further escalation and further increase of victims in the conflict area and worldwide.

The suffering of the Ukrainian civilian population and the losses of lives of the Ukrainian and Russian armies are immense and need to be relieved as soon as possible. The longer the conflict goes, the more the destruction and resentment grow on both sides. It makes a future reconciliation much harder.

Therefore, a rapid ceasefire is vital. It is a pre-condition for any negotiation since bilaterally negotiated agreements cannot be reached and would legally not be valid under the pressure of ongoing military attacks (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, art.52).

The capacity to rely on mutually trusted and neutral third-party mediators will increase the likelihood of a peaceful settlement. The following proposals aim to take into account the concerns, character, and needs of both Ukraine and Russia as well as other nations. Twelve elements are proposed to get the two nations back to integrative dynamics. Those twelve elements are interrelated. However, they can also be considered and supported one by one.

In light of the fast-changing realities and perceptions of this conflict, these twelve proposals are a contribution to discussion and are open for adaptation to further developments.

We call on all actors to still give negotiated peace a chance.

Read and download the full text here

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