G7 Leaders’ Rhetorics a Threat to Pacifism and Global Peace

By Allawi Ssemanda

Over the weekend, we listened to leaders of Group of Seven (G7) countries who gathered in Hiroshima, Japan for this year’s G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address world’s challenges.

If we take a clear analysis of speeches of the leaders; from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan—plus the European Union, one can conclude that the summit veered off the original course – addressing global challenges and metamorphosized into a sort of anti-China grouping.

From press conferences to official communiqué, as the Atlantic Council analysis concluded; “make no mistake, it is all about China,” the U.S and “Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the issue of combating China’s economic coercion a priority for Japan’s G7.”

While President Joe Biden told press that he supports the idea of having an “open hotline” with China, his rhetoric points at a president interested in maligning China with accusations of “China’s continued military expansion” and the so-called Beijing’s “economic coercion.” However, simple facts check points at the U.S being the leader when it comes to economic coercion especially influencing allies to follow Washington’s unilateral decisions.

While Biden claimed that Washington will not “decouple from China,” he told the same press that “with all the talk about China’s building its military, I’ve made it clear …I’m not prepared to trade certain items with China,” claiming that trading freely with China means China “using them to build nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and I’m not going to do it.” Biden further boasted that allies have all agreed to restrict selling of certain items to Chinese firms stressing that “we’ve now got commitment from all of our allies they’re not going to either provide that kind of material that allows them to do that.”

While Biden claimed that the U.S is not seeking to “decouple from China,” if critically analysed, his comments reflect China’s accusation that Washington has been encouraging allies and companies to decouple from Chinese chain supply. Indeed, on 7th October 2022, the U.S took unprecedented steps announcing export bans to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips and chip-making equipment. Hence, the claim that the U.S does not seek to “decouple from China” is double standard considering that the U.S has been encouraging her companies to do exactly this. However, the U.S must accept fair competition and come to reality that attempts to isolate China will not help Washington and threaten global economy. As Elon Musk argued, it is not realistic to completely decouple from China and such efforts will definitely boomerang. For example, since 2013, China has been the engine of global economy with more than 38% compared to all G7 countries contribution of just 25.7%!

On G7 accusing China of increasingly “building its military” capacity, one can argue that compared to the U.S 2022/2023 defence budget of about $761 billion which is almost times four of China’s ($230 billion), this claim is baseless and misleading. It is also important to observe that all the G7 countries’ defence budgets have been steadily increasing over the past several years. Therefore, pointing at China as the only country whose military budget continue to rise is a keen to misinformation.

Telling journalists that “now, we’re also united in our approach to the People’s Republic of China, and the joint statement released yesterday outlines the shared principles we’ve all agreed at the G7 and beyond in dealing with China,” Biden argued that as a result of alleged China’s continued military building, “we’ve ended up where you have Japan stepping up in a way that’s of real consequence, in terms of your defense budget, number one, and a beginning of a rapprochement with South Korea.” If analysed, Japan’s decision to abandon pacifism which Tokyo has maintained for decades as per its post-war constitution – adopted in 1947 with a clause commonly referred to as Article 9 in which first paragraph renounces war, and the second paragraph promises to never maintain military forces, today, Japan’s decision to consider own military as well as growing its defence budget can be traced from US’ influence and courting Tokyo to join Washington’s anti-Beijing club with their so-called countering China agenda which is informed by America’s libido dominandi, a Latin phrase for lust to dominate others.  We can argue that using China card, the U.S has created China scare and forced countries including Japan into group formation with the latest being the so-called QUAD which analysts argue is meant to counter what US calls China’s influence in Indo-Pacific.

Indeed, addressing press alongside G7 summit in Hiroshima, president Biden was categorical explaining that he convinced India, Australia and Japan to join the U.S and form Quad. “I bet you — I would — maybe some of you thought it, but I doubt many people in this audience or any other audience would have said that two years after being elected, I’d be able to convince India, Australia, Japan, and the United States to form an organization called the Quad to maintain stability in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea,” boasted president Biden.

The formation of Quad left a number of countries in the region entering defence competition with Japan abandoning its pacifism policy, South Korea announcing increased military spending and the U.S promising nuclear submarines to Australia on the other hand claiming Washington is committed to ensuring nuclear proliferation in the region.

Also, the G7 summit addressed their so-called “shared commitment to the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII)” and promised $600 billion to among others support infrastructure development in both South and Global north.  Analysts argue PGII is meant to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has so far been embraced by over 151 countries and at least 32 international organizations creating tens of thousands of employment opportunities and growing a number of countries GDP projections, G7’s PGII largely remains on paper. Despite G7 promises of speeding up their push for new supply chains ostensibly to leverage the PGII as an alternative to BRI, it is very unlikely this will be realised. Indeed, since its announcement two years ago, in Africa, it is very difficult to trace how many countries have benefited from it. The U.S which is arguably a de facto leader of G7 and pushing PGII itself has serious infrastructure deficits and the Biden administration has more than twice failed to convince congress to fund it. It therefore remains strange to imagine congress will approve money to address infrastructure deficits abroad yet it failed to approval similar spending at home.

In conclusion, the G7 summit which started with promise of trying to address global challenges ended up as a small group of rich countries discussing how to counter China and ignored real issues affecting the world especially developing countries. On global peace, in efforts to their so-called countering China, the group instigated Japan to abandon its pacifism policy as Tokyo embarks on building and growing its military. Also, the choice of Hiroshima which suffered the first nuclear attacks at a time when Russia-Ukraine crisis is raging makes one wonder what message G7 leaders were sending. It is not a surprise there was no talk of diplomacy as a possible way of addressing the crisis but many choose to announce military support to Kiev.

Dr. Allawi Ssemanda is a Senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.

The G-7 Summit was yet another “US against Them” Political Rally

By Moshi Israel

The 2023 G7 summit, in Hiroshima, Japan started on 19th May and concluded on 21st May. The participating G7 countries include; the United Kingdom, Germany, United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, and France. The European Union also participates in all discussions as a guest represented jointly by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission. An invitation was also extended to BRICS members and emerging economic powerhouses, India and Brazil. The president of war-torn Ukraine also participated in the summit. Additional countries were invited to fill up the sixteen sits available at the summit including Comoros and the Cook Islands representing the African Union and Pacific Islands Forum, respectively, as their current chairs.

The summit concerned itself with two major perspectives; Upholding the so-called international order based on the rule of law and outreach to the Global South.

The choice to focus on these two perspectives provides an insight into the major itch on the back of G7 countries. First of all, it signals that the G7 is of the view that their international rules-based order is under threat and secondly, they acknowledge the fact that they are losing influence in the Global South. Naturally, the blame is always placed on some external enemy and little focus is put on self-reflection.

Furthermore, the summit discussed a couple of issues. On top of the list was the issue of Regional Affairs with Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific being of major concern. Other important issues included; Nuclear disarmament and Non-proliferation, Economic Resilience and Economic Security, Climate and Energy, Food, Health, and Development. Concerns on Gender, Human Rights, Digitalization, and Science and Technology were highlighted.

However, most of these important topics were not the highlight of the summit. Instead, the 2023 G7 Summit is now infamous for its anti-China rhetoric and has come off as yet another “Us Vs Them” political rally. This is a dangerous reinventing of the cold-war mentality that was detrimental to Global peace. The British Prime Minister cited China as representing “the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.” Although many are left wondering whose ‘security’ and whose ‘prosperity’ Mr. Rishi Sunak is referring to.  Furthermore, the G7 leaders agreed to establish an initiative to counter economic ‘coercion.’ Jumping on the anti-china chorus, the leaders of the QUAD group- India, Australia, Japan, and the US called for ‘peace and stability in the Indo-pacific maritime domain’ in an attempt to jibe at China. Overall, the G7 countries released a communique that ‘warned’ China over its ‘militarisation activities’ in the Asia-pacific region.

On the other hand, Beijing hit back at the G7 by calling the summit a collective effort to ‘smear and attack China.’ The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China also pointed out that the G7 was ‘hindering international peace, undermining regional stability and curbing other countries’ development.’ This statement will most likely resonate with many countries in the Global South. Also, on the summit’s final day, Chinese regulators barred Chinese infrastructure from using US chip maker, Micron Technology after the latter failed a two-month security review.

All this highlights the increasing gap in cooperation between Beijing and the West. Although President Biden expressed hope for the rejuvenation of China-US relations, it now sounds like empty rhetoric. The G7 countries tried to input a ‘positive note’ on the summit by claiming that they wanted ‘constructive and stable relations’ with Beijing and aimed to ‘de-risk’ rather than ‘de-couple’ from their relations with China. Unsurprisingly too, there was no active support for an end to hostilities in Ukraine but rather an escalation of the conflict through further military aid. The only viable solution to the situation in Ukraine according to the West is the complete defeat or withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine. Only time can be the judge of such a position.

It is safe to conclude that the G7 summit did not bring forward any new ideas or innovative ways to handle Global turmoil but instead resorted to tired and tried tactics that help no one by increasing tensions. The pattern is clear and spells tribal warfare where everyone joins a camp and fights to crush a perceived enemy.  It is a kind of politics where national interest takes precedence over any progressive notion of healthy competition and cooperation. It is perhaps, high time the words of seasoned diplomat Henry Kissinger are taken seriously. In an interview with the British Historian Niall Ferguson, published by the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo,” Kissinger noted that a ‘second cold war fought between the United States and China could be more dangerous than the first one.’ He further noted that such a war could ‘overthrow civilization, if not destroy it altogether.’  He also observed that waiting for China to ‘Westernise’ was not a plausible strategy and did not think ‘World domination is a Chinese concept.’

The global south eventually emerges as the loser from the summit because once again the West only reaches out not to reinvent relations based on equal opportunities and mutual respect but as a strategy to curb China’s influence and to rally support against Russia.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with DWC





Brazil’s Counsel to the US on Ukraine Crisis Should Be Taken Serious; they should stop “Encouraging” Ukraine War

By Alan Collins Mpewo

War is a scourge that any right-thinking member of society should hate. Not good now, wasn’t then, will never be. But also, as time has gone by, there are those who always believe that war is good, and that from war, society rebuilds and prospers beyond the terrors that it has outlived. That way, society lives through a cycle of endless destruction and rebuild. Many will agree that a lot of devastation is unavoidable whenever physical armor lets loose, and ideally, we’ve witnessed that in days not so far gone. Ukraine, is both a test subject and witness as regards the war conversation. Many lives have been lost, and along the way, if all keeps going as is, more will be lost on both fronts to the war – Russia and Ukraine indiscriminately. Inter-country wars spare not many. The scuffle has raged for months now, and nothing much seems to be positive as regards possibilities of letting peace get restored to both sides of the war.

Along the divide are a few countries that have decided to remain neutral and rather not take any efforts in standing in support if any side. However, the two distant antagonistic sides have support and cheers coming to their aid. One side is pro war, and another pro peace. The supporters of the war undoubtedly have reasons, valid and unwarranted, just as the pro peace chanters. On a scale of each side’s concerns, some merit can be discerned. Ultimately for the pro war, doubt can be left in as to whether any would choose or wish their lands beam into endless showers of disaster by firearms. International politics is a subtle and dangerous subject that even when state of affairs seem obvious, there will always be a wing not so much concerned about the victim(s), but their interests. The West has had its take, and there’s no doubt whatsoever on the side of the line it stands. While in a wake to show support to Ukraine, there’s equally much that’s left desirable in as far as it also strongly looks at having its interests above the ordinary aspirations of those that it seeks to aid.

Many speeches have come from all centers of the world, each voice providing its assessment and possible measures going forward. To that has been China that has constantly called for peace. While war is another such measure through which peace can at the end of it all be achieved, on a probability of winning such war, it’s a measure that comes at a great (or rather greatest) price. It has gone ahead to provide more measures that can be adopted by both sides to the tie, to which (among others) is diplomatic talks. Such have achieved much success in the past, in many lands across the globe, and a lot has been spared the troubles of disaster. No wonder, there are constant arising platforms for diplomacy outcry, that have joined the already existent platforms. It goes to show how a great deal of importance it is, that the modern world regards peace. Disruptions have led to untold setbacks, that the present world still pays a price for. Rebuilding destroyed structures in all aspects of society take much longer and challenges that should have been mitigated, if other better options had initially been explored.

The United Nations has in the past established such platforms of diplomacy, but a lot has always been left to be desired. The scale on which the United Nations tilts in some matters has always left bias, and perhaps that’s why some members, especially the East and its allies have always called out the ‘Organization’ on such inadequacies. By and large, Russia still stands at a position of distaste for the West, and not so much can change regarding the present war. Be that as it may, some other countries have lived to see through the cunningness of the West especially on such global questions. Brazil for example, issued its stand regarding the US’s encouragement of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio recently couldn’t hold back on the dangerous support antics of the West to Ukraine. Just like China and many other countries, Brazil understands that peace can be achieved through diplomatic options other than continued encouragement of either side to the ongoing war.

He added that while It’s understandable that a superpower showdown to have one of the West’s greatest allies keep being weakened, it’s unfortunately not in the best interests of other world players. According to the pro peace league of nations, there’s much the rest of the global players can do in bringing the two conflicting countries to a round table to possibly iron their differences and forge a better way out that’s in the interest of both countries. While the US keeps on its ideology of having the entire world united against its major enemy, Russia, other players are in contrast of ideology and rather than keep supplying weapons and all forms of armor, peaceful methods should be revisited to further find lesser destructive ways of regaining the old or better peaceful suns and moons between Russia and Ukraine.

Today, despite heavy causalities especially on both sides with heavy destruction on Ukraine side, it is becoming clearer that the US is interested in seeing Russia-Ukraine crisis continue. If we critically analyze comments from most top politicians in Washington, one can argue that sadly, Ukraine is a victim of great power politics and is being used by Washington as a proxy state to fight a war that in all ways would have been avoided! As rightly observed by Congressman Adam Schiff; “the United States aides Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia over here.” In light of the above, one can contend that if the U.S doesn’t want Russia to fight Ukraine, then the U.S should not use Ukraine to fight Russia as Adam Schiff told.

All in all, as China proposed in her Global Security Initiative (GSI), for peace to prevail globally, we must avoid unilateralism, block formation, power politics and confrontation and that taking into consideration each other’s legitimate security concerns are key when it comes to sustainable global security.

Alan Collins Mpewo is a senior research fellow, Development Watch Centre.


President XI Jinping’s Russia Trip is Crucial for Global Stability

By Moshi Israel

On Monday, the 20th of this month the Leader of China President Xi Jinping landed in Moscow on his first trip out of China since his re-election for a third term as President. Choosing Moscow as his first foreign trip re-affirms the close friendship between Russia and Beijing. President Xi’s long-awaited visit to Moscow inspired a lot of background noise around major capitals of the world. A close partnership between Moscow and Beijing is not in the geopolitical interests of most western countries. However, many other regions of the world that are eager for a new era of global politics in which multi-polarity is the norm, anticipated and hoped for the best outcomes from the meeting.

China, with President Xi at the helm, has taken up the mantle of peacemaker. After successfully brokering a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, China is increasingly being seen as a credible global power capable of prioritizing cooperation over confrontation. This comes as no surprise since the CPC has always championed win-win partnerships and diplomacy around the world. The evidence of this is embedded within China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), and Global Security Initiative (GSI) concept paper that encourages the Chinese tradition of peace above everything else.

China’s peace plan for Ukraine closely follows the core concepts and principles of its GSI. These concepts include but are not limited to, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, commitment to taking the legitimate security concerns of countries seriously, and abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN charter. These principles are crucial in maintaining global stability. Therefore, President Xi’s visit to Moscow can be seen as an extension of these principles and China’s role as a peace broker. China has proposed to Moscow a twelve-point peace plan that seeks to end hostilities in Ukraine. President Putin has welcomed China’s efforts to solve the crisis in Ukraine and proclaimed that Russia is ready for peace when Ukraine and its western backers are. Most of the world cannot wait for this conflict to be over with and welcomes common sense solutions to the conflict.

Washington for so long has proclaimed that the decision to negotiate for peace and end the war is for Ukraine to make. However, it did not come as a surprise when the White House through its national security spokesperson John Kirby rejected any idea of a cease-fire. The white house anticipated that China might seek to broker a cease-fire in Ukraine and rejected it two weeks ahead of Xi’s visit to Moscow on grounds that it would allow Russia to consolidate its gains in the Donbas. The International Criminal Court (ICC) even went further and indicted President Putin for war crimes in Ukraine ahead of President Xi’s visit. This move by the court has been interpreted by many as largely symbolic and an attempt to murky the waters and complicate Xi’s visit to Moscow.

China has a very large presence around the world, economically, diplomatically, and technologically and has used this power to support peace. This should be applauded by all responsible citizens of the world. World leaders should oppose any attempt to escalate conflicts by nefarious actors on the global stage. President Xi has insisted that the conflict in Ukraine should end at the negotiating table and that the concerns of the conflicting parties be addressed.

At a time when the world is under serious economic and political strain, China is standing up to be counted as the global power that has a practical plan to lead the world into a new era. China’s neutrality on the Ukrainian conflict despite deep ties with Moscow, and its goal of peace are testament to the country’s genuine desire for a functional multi-polar and anti-war world. The global south, itself a victim of proxy wars should support China’s efforts in the framework of the United Nations to promote peace in Ukraine and around the world. The years of lacking a coherent and independent foreign policy in the global south should be forgotten and dumped in the dustbin of history. China under the CPC has managed to uplift itself from a century of humiliation to a global power worth taking seriously. The same can be replicated in the global south and particularly here in Africa.

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow with DWC

China’s Global Development Initiative can revert IMF’s 2023 grimy global outlook

By Marvin Hannington Kalema.

 On Tuesday this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its 2023 global growth forecast in which it painted a grimy picture stressing that the world’s three largest economies will “continue to stall”, and warned “the worst is yet to come, and for many people 2023 will feel like a recession.”

Stressing that conditions could worsen significantly next year with more than a third of the world’s economy contrasting, IMF cut its 2023 global growth forecast to 2.7 percent, which is lower than the Fund’s 2.9 percent July 2022 forecast.

Further, the forecast reduced US’ growth this year to 1.6 percent which is a 0.7 percentage point downgrade if compared with the Fund’s July forecast. This drop can be attributed to an unexpected second-quarter GDP contraction in the US. For the year 2023, IMF predicted that US’ growth forecast will be 1%.

China, the world’s second largest economy on the other side is predicted to register to register a 4.4% growth in 2023, down from 4.6%.

Sky rocketing energy prices in Eurozone growth will further affect economic growth in the region with IMF predicting a 0.5% growth in 2023 which will leave the region’s key economies like Germany and Italy entering what IMF called “technical recessions.”

The IMF further argued that a promising economic future, is subject to a delicate balancing act by central banks to fight inflation without over-tightening, which could push the global economy into an “unnecessarily severe recession” and cause disruptions to financial markets and pain for developing countries.

All the above, if critically analysed, it is increasingly becoming clear that achieving United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be very difficult especially for developing countries.

As Chinese president Xi Jinping observed in his remarks to during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly address, “right now, COVID-19 is still raging in the world, and profound changes are taking place in human society. The world has entered a period of new turbulence and transformation. It falls on each and every responsible statesman to answer the questions of our times and make a historical choice with confidence, courage and a sense of mission.”

Arguably, the questions of our times now must answer how can the world recover from this economic meltdown without leaving any country behind? What should be done to achieve the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development?

While UN’s 2030 Agenda calls for global sustainable development, the current reality calls for more ingredients for it to achieve its main objectives.

Therefore, recalling urgent need for a better and functioning world amidst economic uncertainties as highlighted by IMF in their 2023 global outlook forecasts, embracing China’s proposed Global Development Initiative (GDI) is very important at this time since it addresses all key challenges that have potential of failing a balanced economic recovery for all countries while putting people at the centre.

Indeed, while proposing GDI, president Xi explained the “need[s] to foster global development partnerships that are more equal and balanced, forge greater synergy among multilateral development cooperation processes, and speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” He reasoned those challenges like global economic meltdown, and food and energy insecurity are likely to hinder the achievement of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development due to economic recoveries countries are taking.

Specifically, Xi explained that different countries have resorted to individualistic economic recoveries, leaving poor and developing countries’ concerns unattended, which risks widening the south – north development gap. “We must get a good grasp of the overarching development trend in the world, firm up confidence, and act in unison and with great motivation to promote global development and foster a development paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation and common prosperity,” stressed Xi.

With IMF’s warning that “a promising economic future, is subject to a delicate balancing act by central banks to fight inflation without over-tightening, which could push the global economy into an unnecessarily severe recession” which the Funder explained would “cause disruptions to financial markets and pain for developing countries,” to squarely counter this challenge, there is need central banks and governments across to work together in identifying viable and practical policies and suggestions for all.

With GDI for example, President Xi emphasized that it is a sure way for the world to a chieve a balanced development if countries agree to work together in promoting economic recovery, “For us to break through the mist and embrace a bright future, the biggest strength comes from cooperation and the most effective way is through solidarity…The hardships and challenges are yet another reminder that humanity is a community with a shared future where all people rise and fall together…” Xi noted as he introduced GDI.

In total support of Xi Jinping’s call for inclusive rather than individualistic development, one ought to note that even the preamble of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights development ‘partnerships’ as one of the agenda’s five most critical areas of importance. Simply put, the agenda notes that formation of such partnerships is not only a foundational principle for all the SDGs, it is also the only viable way by which such SDGs can be effectively. This re-echoes Jinping’s assertion that SDG targets, of which global economic sustainability includes, cannot be achieved in isolation.

China’s Global Development Initiative is an example of development campaigns tailored in resonance with the UN’s SDGs hence the IMF ought to consider its promotion and sensitization in its bid to avert the impending global economic crisis. The GDI, significantly anchored on collective efforts of development manifests SDG 17 that was specifically and intentionally adopted to promote development partnerships.

This goal according to scholars like Haywood & Funke (The Sustainable Development Goals in South Africa: investigating the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships), is premised on the assertion that a successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. This is the exact message being pushed by Beijing’s GDI project and in light of growing selfish and individualistic development approaches that often affect the global south more adversely, all global development stake-holders must consider it.

“We need to jointly build international consensus on promoting development. It is important that we put development in front and center on the international agenda, deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and build political consensus to ensure everyone values development and all countries pursue cooperation together,” added Xi.

The IMF 2023 global outlook predicts that for next year, most of developing countries people will feel like a real recession. This means that though major economies will not be much better, there is need for them not to abscond from their commitments of helping developing countries development and economic recoveries programs. Indeed, as he promoted GDI, Xi emphasized the need for developed countries to fulfill their obligations and deepen cooperation stressing that in development efforts, “no country or individual … behind.”

Today, the GDI has been cited and supported by the United Nations and other international organizations, and nearly 100 countries. Now that it seeks to address challenges IMF has pointed at, one can argue that it’s high time IMF adopted GDI as the world races to arrest global economic meltdown and build a community of common prosperity and shared prosperity.

Marvin Hannington Kalema is a Senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre and a law student at University of Johannesburg, South Africa.


Ukraine Crisis: China, France and Germany Can Help in Meaningful Dialogue

Less than a month since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, over two million five hundred thousand people have fled the country with over two million internally displaced as of today in a war analysts describe as the worst in Europe since World War two, yet there are no signs it is not about to end.

What is clear now is that as politicians in Washington and European Capitals announce back-to-back sanctions against Moscow and threats of total Western isolation against Kremlin, more than politicians, it is ordinary Ukrainians facing the wrath of Russia’s bombs!

Despite rounds of talks between Russia-Ukraine delegations at Belarus-Ukraine boarders and between foreign ministers of the two countries held in Turkey, not much has been achieved. This does not mean that diplomacy has failed and therefore should be abandoned! Actually, it is the very reason why we should pursue diplomatic path other than Washington’s view of supplying more weapons to besieged Ukraine. This is not to say that like Yemen which has been under Saudi backed coalition bombardment since 2014 with Western supplied weapons be ignored, but to emphasise that continued supplying of weapons to Ukraine will simply prolong the war and suffering of civilians especially that Moscow seems ready to double down attacks! Continued fighting will not end the suffering of people but dialogue in real and earnest terms can easily bring this war to an end.

As suggested by Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi in his 6 points in regard to the Ukraine question: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and protected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter be abided by all in real earnest; security of one country should not come at the expense of the security of other countries; calling on all parties to exercise the necessary restraint; support for all diplomatic efforts conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis; direct dialogue and negotiation between Russia and Ukraine. Other than using UN to simply condemn Russia without suggesting how to stop the fighting, as Wang stressed: UN Security Council should play a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine issue, and “actions taken by the Security Council should help cool the situation and facilitate diplomatic resolution rather than fueling tensions and causing further escalation”.

While it may not be easy to engage in direct dialogue, signs are that it is not too late! Indeed, on Friday French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a telephone conversation witht Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Whereas French Presidency says president Putin seemed not ready to announce cease fire which the two leaders demanded for as a condition for talks, the fact that these European leaders are willing to engage Moscow, it is a good start to start a diplomatic path. Therefore, France and Germany having openly declared their support to Ukraine, if joined by a neutral force like China can help to bring the two fighting sides to agreement and silence guns!

While Washington would play a role, one can argue that as of today, the US has no major constructive role to play for it is seen as a spoiler due to their hard stand when it comes to Russia’s security concerns which Moscow claims Washington ignored. In this conflict, the US cannot play a uniting role because Washington sees Russia’s action as Moscow’s direct Challenge to Washington and hence, it is very unlikely that the US would be ready to encourage Ukraine to consider some concession which arguably is key to ending this crisis. Also, shortly after Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine, president Biden announced that Putin’s action had closed any possibility of future engagements. With USA’s self-praise as an indomitable nation, it maybe very hard for them to make a quick U-turn and sit on same table, and for example encourage Ukraine where possible to accept concessions.

On the other hand, France can play a positive role considering the fact that even when Paris joined other countries in sanctioning and condemning Moscow, Paris has always suggested there is still possibility of diplomacy to work. Also, president Macron’s personal negotiation skills and influence in Europe can see him constructively playing a much-needed role. After all, while President Joe Biden once told us that there are no secret codes to foreign policy, that it is all about personal relationships, and about human nature. Equally, from the start, Germany was clear and against anything with potential of escalating the situation. Therefore, one can argue that they are ready to do whatever it takes to cool the situation.

Also, China can play a better role. Historically, when it comes to peace and security, China has the best record among major powers. It has never invaded other countries or engaged in proxy wars, nor have they ever participated in military bloc confrontations, according to facts and words of foreign minister, Wang Yi. Other than opposing power politics, and hegemonies, China has always campaigned for equality urging great powers to respect and uphold legitimate rights and interests of developing countries-be small or medium-sized. Beijing argues this is the sure way the world will achieve lasting peaceful and development stressing it as the best way of building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
If we critically analyse, words of president Zelensky, while responding to David Muir of ABC News on 08th who asked him: “What is your message to Vladimir Putin right now?” Muir had asked president Zelensky that to cease hostilities, Russia was demanding that Ukraine change its constitution to reject any intention to enter NATO and also to recognize Crimea as part of Russia as well as the other two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. Though president Zelensky did not directly say he was willing to compromise, his response suggested a change of tone responding that he was “ready for a dialogue.”
On Ukraine joining NATO, president Zelensky sounded ready for concession stressing that, “I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago, after we understood that … NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine. The alliance is afraid of controversial things and confrontation with Russia.”
While, answering the question of if Ukraine was ready to let go the two self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, if compared to pre-war, president Zelensky appeared somehow reconciliatory noting that: “I think that items regarding temporarily occupied territories and pseudo-republics not recognized by anyone but Russia, we can discuss and find a compromise on how these territories will live on,” Zelensky said. “What’s important to me is how the people in those territories who want to be part of Ukraine are going to live.”

Looking at Ukrainian government’s official released full interview, president Zelensky noted he was ready for what he called a “collective security agreement” that would include Russia. If well analysed, all the above signals it is possible to have successful talks and hence, China, France and Germany should make quick steps in this direction.
Allawi Ssemanda is the Executive Director of Development Watch Centre; a foreign policy think tank.

Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks: Neutral Parties Needed to Leverage Negotiations.

By Allawi Ssemanda

Today marks the 6th day since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in what Russian President Vladimir Putin described as a “military action” aimed at protecting Moscow supporters from a supposedly “genocidal” regime.

The war has already claimed over 200 lives, and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes to neighbouring countries and destruction of properties is on-going. From the look of things, the war is not about to end and Russia seems determined as it advances toward Kiev.

In same way, Western countries are increasing pressure against Moscow with different western Capitals slapping sanctions against Russia. While sanctions may have an impact against Russia in the long run, drawing examples from North Korea, Iran among others countries the West has sanctioned, it is clear that sanctions hardly bring about desired changes and sometimes they severe already poor relations among countries. In this case, dialogue and negotiations remain the best option in addressing challenges among countries.

Indeed, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy after repeatedly expressed willingness to enter dialogue with Russia and addressing president Putin via a recorded video message: “I would like to address the President of the Russian Federation once again. Fighting is going on all over Ukraine. Let’s sit down at the negotiating table to stop the deaths of people,” talks finally started at the Ukraine-Belarus border where both sides agreed to resume them after consultations from their capitals.

Despite Ukrainian president saying he does not expect much from these negotiations, the fact that the  two sides met is a good sign and should be encouraged. Nonmatter how cliché it may sound, talking with each other is better than talking at each other. However, it is evident that unless the two sides and Ukraine’s backers are not ready to compromise, these negations may stale prolonging the war and suffering of people in Ukraine.

To safeguard these talks, a neutral country which has not shown side and with a good record as far as observing international laws such as respecting territorial boundaries of sovereign countries is concerned is a better option and has moral authority to facilitate such negotiations. A neutral guarantor is key for success of negotiations to move well. China among all major powers, only China qualifies. This does not mean other major powers cannot help, but considering that many especially the US and EU have shown sides, they can only watch and perhaps encourage the them than acting as spoilers or continuing with statements that may escalate the situation.

On the other side, China has not shown side and has been calling for diplomacy as the best way of resolving this crisis. Indeed, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has been categorical explaining in five points China’s stand in regard to the Ukraine question maintaining that: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and protected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter abided by in real earnest; stressed that security of one country should not come at the expense of the security of other countries; encouraged all parties to exercise the necessary restraint; expressed support for all diplomatic efforts conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis; encouraged direct dialogue and negotiation between Russia and Ukraine,  and stressed its belief that UN Security Council should play a constructive role in resolving the Ukraine issue, stressing that “actions taken by the Security Council should help cool the situation and facilitate diplomatic resolution rather than fueling tensions and causing further escalation.”

Even in UNSC emergency session, while the West voted and campaigned for the resolution to condemn Russia, China used that chance and argued concerned parties to consider dialogue and abstained. If critically analysed, this alone is a score that Beijing is neutral on this issue and if given opportunity, Beijing can help to have the two worrying sides resolve their disagreements peacefully and silence guns in Ukraine.

From historical perspective, China’s intention to ensure a peaceful world where countries observe and respect international laws is solid. Beijing has been very consistent with a view of maintaining global security and saving people from suffering due to wars. For example, after France, US and NATO allies invaded Libya in 2011 arguing they wanted to protect civilians from government forces under UN resolution 1674 – Responsibility to protect, after allegations that NATO forces were involved in operations that left civilians injured and others dead, Brazil and China came up with a proposal to ensure protection of civilians and introduced the idea of Responsibility While Protecting (RwP). Because at this time France and NATO allies were the invading forces, they refused to support RwP. China proposed some changes and named a new draft Responsible Protection (RP) which was again rejected by France, US and UK and hence, left plight of civilians during invasion at the mercies of invading forces with little or no hope of ever getting justice.

While some western pundits have claimed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gives China a chance to invade and occupy Taiwan, it is important to note that Ukraine Question is very different from Taiwan. While Ukraine is a sovereign country with its territories protected international laws, Taiwan is China’s territory that suggesting China will invade it is like saying China will invade herself. For Taiwan’s case, it can only be unification but not invasion.

Again, as Chinese Foreign Minister observed, when it comes to peace and security, China has the best record among major powers. It has never invaded other countries or engaged in proxy wars, nor have they ever sought spheres of influence or participated in military bloc confrontations.

On top of opposing power politics, and hegemonies, China has always campaigned that great powers respect and uphold legitimate rights and interests of developing countries-be small or medium-sized. Beijing argues this is the sure way together we can achieve a peaceful development and building of a community with a shared future for mankind where small, big, weak and powerful countries all live in harmony.

The writer is the Executive Director of Development Watch Centre; a foreign policy think tank and author of Global Governance and Norm Contestation: How BRICS is Reshaping World Order.  Twitter @AllawiSsemanda



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