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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The African-led peace mission could turn into a global south one upon Bharat’s participation

Without the Anglo-American Axis’ approval, Kiev won’t be allowed to consider a ceasefire even if those two and the rest of the West become fatigued with this conflict by the end of the year. It’s not expected that they’ll let China score an unprecedented diplomatic victory by mediating an end to the most geostrategically significant conflict since World War II, but they might be willing to support a joint African-Indian effort to this end that represents the entire Global South.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday that he plans to participate in an African-led peace mission for resolving the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine, which will see him and several other heads of state visit Moscow and Kiev in the coming future. Their chances of eventually convincing both directly conflicting parties to agree to a ceasefire would be greatly enhanced if they invited Bharat to participate in this process and then turned it into a larger Global South one.

Thus far, there are only three peace initiative that have officially been proposed: Russia’s, Ukraine’s, and China’s. The first two represent those respective sides’ maximalist demands of the other, which appear unlikely to materialize absent a breakthrough sometime this summer during Kiev’s upcoming NATO-backed counteroffensive. Meanwhile, the most relevant part of the last-mentioned’s proposal is a ceasefire, which becomes a realistic possibility once the aforesaid counteroffensive ends later this year.

There’s nothing unique about countenancing a cessation of hostilities ahead of the winter reducing each side’s opportunities to go on the offensive, but in the event that they’re both receptive to this as could happen if Kiev’s Western patrons finally become fatigued by then, Beijing will lead this process. That would pose a problem for the US, however, which would prefer for anyone other than its peer competitor to play this globally significant diplomatic role.

Brazilian President Lula has tried taking a stab at this, but he isn’t neutral after ordering his country’s diplomats to vote for an anti-Russian UNGA Resolution and reaffirming his condemnation of Russia in subsequent speeches. This means that Moscow is unlikely to agree to him playing that role, thus making the Global South reluctant to endorse his proposal, especially amidst suspicions that he’s functioning as the US’ “Trojan Horse” for steering support away from China’s ceasefire suggestion.

The EU doesn’t stand a chance of doing this either since it also isn’t neutral, plus the bloc is under even more US influence than Brazil is. The best that could happen is France’s Emmanuel Macron “going rogue” by leading this process with his Chinese counterpart, but that would provoke the US to pull out all the stops in pressuring him to relent since it fears losing influence over the EU to its peer competitor. The US might one day support a ceasefire, but it wouldn’t allow Kiev to agree to a Chinese-mediated one.

Therein lies the dilemma since the start of such talks is the most likely outcome of Kiev’s NATO-backed counteroffensive, yet that alliance’s leading Anglo-American Axis doesn’t have the trust with Russia that’s required to initiate this process, nor does it want to risk its soft power at home by trying to do so. At the same time, they’ll never approve China playing this role instead – with or without it being jointly led by France – since the optics of their peer competitor diplomatically outdoing them is unacceptable.

What’s therefore needed in order to advance prospective ceasefire talks by the end of the year are truly neutral countries mediating between the two most direct participants in this conflict. The African Union is split approximately in half when it comes to those who’ve voted for anti-Russian UNGA Resolutions and those who’ve abstained. Additionally, its countries have a reason to stop the fighting in order to alleviate the consequences of the food and fuel crises that were brought about by this proxy war.

As such, the argument can be made that those African states that’ll participate in the upcoming peace mission are indeed neutral enough to play this role, but their odds of success would be much greater if they expanded their effort by inviting Bharat to join them. It virtually hosted the inaugural Voice Of Global South Summit in January and has championed developing countries’ interests during its G20 presidency, not to mention Bharat’s masterful balancing act between Russia and the West over the past year.

Bharat’s participation in this process therefore wouldn’t just be a diplomatic asset, but a soft power asset too since it could lead to this mission being rebranded as a Global South one. The West is nowadays eager to engage more with this collection of countries as evidenced by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s remarks on Monday, which were shared on the same day as former US National Security Council member Fiona Hill’s and Goldman Sachs’ President of Global Affairs Jared Cohen’s related articles.

The first represents the EU, the second the Anglo-American Axis, and the third represents the Western financial elite, all of whom just explained the interests that their respective sides have in supporting initiatives from the Global South as part of their newly envisaged engagement with these states. This means that they can be counted on to endorse a prospectively joint AU-Indian peace mission, especially if it’s rebranded as a Global South one, which is this year’s new buzzword in the West.

In practical terms, the AU’s unofficially self-assumed South African leader and Bharat can diplomatically advance their shared ceasefire agenda all throughout the summer. Prime Minister Modi can talk about this with Biden during his trip to the US in late June and then discuss it with his SCO counterparts a few weeks later in early July when his country hosts this year’s leaders’ summit. Later that month, President Ramaphosa could bring it up at the second Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.

One month later at the end of August, he and Prime Minister Modi might then jointly push their ceasefire proposal at the BRICS Summit in South Africa, after which the Bharatiya leader could promote this idea at the G20 summit that his country will host in early September. Around that time, there’ll be a clearer idea what the Line of Contact might be like by winter when the fighting is expected to subside and ceasefire talks possibly begin, ideally facilitated by the prior months’ diplomacy proposed above.

Without the Anglo-American Axis’ approval, Kiev won’t be allowed to consider a ceasefire even if those two and the rest of the West become fatigued with this conflict by the end of the year. It’s not expected that they’ll let China score an unprecedented diplomatic victory by mediating an end to the most geostrategically significant conflict since World War II, but they might be willing to support a joint African-Indian effort to this end that represents the entire Global South.

President Ramaphosa said that his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts agreed to meet with him and the other members of this mission, which speaks to the intention of the most direct participants in this conflict to explore an eventual pathway to peace whenever they feel the time is most opportune. They’ll also receive the Chinese envoy too, but as was earlier mentioned, his country’s envisaged role in mediating a ceasefire won’t be approved by the Anglo-American Axis and thus might not succeed.

Russia and Ukraine have excellent relations with Bharat, as does the Global South, the West, and the latter’s leading Anglo-American Axis, so its inclusion in this African-led peace mission would be a diplomatic and soft power asset. That’s not to say that it’ll lead to a ceasefire by sometime next year, but it presents the best possible chance of that happening if Russia and Ukraine have the political will, the second of whom requires the Anglo-American Axis’ approval that they might only give if Bharat mediates.  

(The story was published on author’s blog on May 17, 2023 and has been reproduced here with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)

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Andrew Korybko
Andrew Korybko
Moscow-based American political analyst specializing in the global systemic transition to multipolarity

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