Putin may win some more battles – but he has already lost this war

A letter from Frank Gaffikin and 12 others:

In this handout photo made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to celebrate International Women's Day, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. International Women's Day on March 8 is an official holiday in Russia, where men traditionally give flowers and gifts to female relatives, friends and colleagues. (Russian Presidential Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to celebrate International Women's Day, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. International Women's Day on March 8 is an official holiday in Russia, where men traditionally give flowers and gifts to female relatives, friends and colleagues. (Russian Presidential Press Service via AP)

This is Putin’s war, not Russia’s.

The people of the Russian Federation have long been captured by an autocracy, rooted in oligarchic support, nostalgic militarism, and klepto-capitalism, and deprived of a pluralist media and independent judiciary.

While NATO has made major mistakes in the lead-up to this war by ignoring Russian fears of being encircled, this in no way justifies Putin’s land grab.

Letter to the editor

Though messy and imperfect, a possible diplomatic package to save lives, horrific injury and destruction is likely to include some permutation of the following:

The relationship of a section of the Donbas region with Russia is put up for negotiation, in line with the preferences of people in the separatist part of that region;

Ukraine forsakes any intention to join NATO, and instead has its neutral status endorsed in international agreement;

Ukraine receives substantial funding from the West to assist its economic development, with suitable safeguards against corruption; dependence on Russian gas and oil is systematically reduced as part of a Green New Deal in Europe;

and procedures for greater disarmament – particularly, though not exclusively, nuclear – follow in the wider geopolitics.

A rush to greater militarisation in Europe via increased defence budgets is in no one’s long term interest.

In time, Ukraine’s membership of the EU should get generous consideration.

Our view is that Putin’s actions are those of a war criminal. He has won some battles, is likely to win some more, but he has already lost the war.

A workable compromise is now urgent lest the consequences of delay result in even more horrific outcomes, to little benefit for the Ukrainian people.

Professor Frank Gaffikin, Belfast BT15

Co-signed by Anne Boyle, Brendan Boyle, Colette Gaffikin, Lorna Goldstrom, Dr Irene Kennedy, Prof Liam Kennedy, Fiona McArthur, Malachy McEldowney, Mildred McEldowney, Theresa Moran, Iris Nesbitt, Ken Sterrett

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