Ukrainian town lies in ruins after heavy Russian shelling

ANALYSIS | RUSSIA’S WAR IN UKRAINE: COULD IT COME TO END IN 2023?

World economies had it rough in 2022. February 24 will mark one year since Russia rolled in troops into Ukraine in what is dubbed – a ‘special military operation’. One year on, the conflict continues to crunch international economies and politics.

In a conflict – turned complex and protracted, the question remains – how best and in what form will a peace deal take?

Russia and Ukraine appear to have fought each other to a standstill. Economic ruin is the common theme on both sides. The threat of a nuclear disaster persists.

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) – an annual international conference on defense, held in the German state of Bavaria (February 17 – 19, 2023), did less to chart a path for peace. It further places Moscow and Kyiv on a collision course.

Behind-the-scenes

President Erdogan and the leadership of Turkiye have been at the forefront to mediate a peace deal between both sides. The administration aims to pursue balanced relations and set the table for discussions.

The historic Black Sea Grain Initiative and prisoner swap deal mediated – are pointers to the ‘special’ role of Turkiye.

While it champions conflict resolution on one hand its sales of arms to Ukraine call its special role into question. Behind the scenes, the business of war turns in notable profits.

In the course of the conflict – Turkiye has presented itself as an exporter of weapons – and has reaped from the windfall. Such a ploy discredits it as a powerful arbiter towards a broad-based and permanent peace settlement in Europe.

Presently, the state finds itself in the throes of an earthquake – the deadliest in modern times, with an estimated death toll of over 40, 000.

President Erdogan is beset with an internal crisis. The economic cost of the disaster runs into tens of millions of dollars. His administration sits on the precipice, which could run down his political aspirations.

In consequence, the Turkish mediation for peace in Europe would be more on the decline, as the Russia-Ukraine war is set to enter into a new and unpredictable phase.

Uneasy settlement

It is important to note several peace formulas have been drawn up to end the conflict. The most controversial presents itself in the ’10-point peace plan’ – a brainchild of the President of Ukraine.

The 10-point peace plan inter alia proposes the release of all war prisoners and deported persons as well as the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute war crimes.

Based on the formula, Moscow must withdraw all its troops from Ukraine and concede its territorial possessions over all Russia-controlled Ukrainian areas including Crimea – a peninsula annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014. These are contentious issues to be trashed out which further raises the stakes.

If a political settlement is decided based on the 10-point peace formula, it places Moscow in a precarious situation – and of course, the Russian leadership will never concede to such – the sum of all fears is the use of nukes as a last resort.

Is the Russian President prepared for nuclear combat?

The Russian leadership asserts to use all means at its disposal to protect its territorial possessions if threatened. The nuclear option is on the table.

If Putin decides to press the nuclear button that could lead to a rapid escalation and reorient the course of the war. The world could end up in flames.

Post-War reconstruction

For Ukraine, the cost of reconstruction will be enormous if the war ends now or in the near future. Russia’s offensive has laid waste to several cities and uprooted millions. Estimates of how much it will cost to rebuild Kyiv come in varying figures.

In a report released August 2022, the World Bank in concert with the European Commission and Kyiv put aggregate losses at more than $252 billion and estimated – $348.5 billion will be needed for reconstruction.

That count would have seen a drastic increase. But, the question remains: will Moscow be made to foot the bills or turn in reparations? It’s quite difficult to predict.

Russia leads the world in the number of nuclear warhead stockpiles
Russia leads the world in the number of nuclear warhead stockpiles

Power politics

Relations between the West and Russia are at their iciest level. NATO countries under US’ leadership remain firm in their commitment to beef up financial and military aid to Ukraine. To them, it offers the fastest means to peace.

The West maintains – a defeat of Ukraine is a defeat to freedom – and all the values it stands for. On its part, Kyiv is determined to press on until the last Russian soldier leaves its land and believes it will succeed.

Moscow is all-out to achieve its war aims. Putin is clear on that. Defeat in this war will be defeat not only to him but also to the political set-up of the Russian Federation. Both sides are consumed with the idea of an absolute win. Resolution is out of the question. For now, peace remains elusive.

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