Russia/Ukraine Tango; Achieving Victory That Renders Further Hostility Unnecessary



For so many centuries, war was considered a lawful violence so far it meets with these three conditions; ‘waged by the lawful public authority in defense of the common good, waged for a just cause, and waged with the right intention, not vengefully nor to inflict harm’. Today, the argument does not hold water and faces a number of embarrassing facts. In fact, emphasis is shifting. Strategic insights from religious and global communities have brought about structural changes in such concept and gradual displacements of this long held view about war.

While those with religious inclinations argue that war fare can no longer be supported or trusted as means of conflict resolution -as the consequence of such exercise or the degree of causalities cannot be predicted, and suggests- gospel and moral sudation as way forward, the global community, advocates that any nation desirous of survival and development, must apply global accounts of previous wars in its day to day administration. Such knowledge without a shadow of the doubt has the capacity to promote understanding between individuals, communities, states, nations and regions of the world.

However, with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014, The invasion which is the largest conventional military attack on a sovereign state in Europe since World War II., has postured Russia as a good example of a nation that is neither interested nor believes in this kind of thinking. The signs are there and could be spotted.

According to reports, Russia has not only demanded that Ukraine never join Nato but that the alliance turns the clock back to 1997 and reverses its eastward expansion. Putin, the country’s President, has complained that Russia has “nowhere further to retreat to – do they think we’ll just sit idly by?”. He wants Nato to remove its forces and military infrastructure from member states that joined the alliance from 1997 and not to deploy “strike weapons near Russia’s borders”. That means Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards the European Union and the West’s defensive military alliance, Nato. Announcing Russia’s invasion, he accused Nato of threatening “our historic future as a nation”. But this goes beyond Nato.

In the words of Germany’s chancellor, Russia’s leader “wants to take over Europe according to his world view”.

Now the world is reacting against Russia via different sanctions. For instance, it was reported that the EU, US, UK, Japan and Canada are cutting off key Russian banks from the international Swift payment network, which allows the smooth and rapid transfer of money across borders. The EU, UK and Canada have shut off their airspace to Russian airlines.. Personal sanctions are being imposed on President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by the US, EU and UK, while 351 Russian MPs are being targeted by the EU. Russia’s state-run media Sputnik and Russia Today, seen as a Kremlin mouthpiece, are being banned across the EU. The Russian city of St Petersburg will no longer be able to host this year’s Champions League final and the Russian Grand Prix will not take place in Sochi..The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing, and has expelled them from the Games in Beijing, among others.

Looking at this development, the question may be asked; how far can sanction go in solving this present challenge.

Within the diplomatic and political circle, ‘Sanction’ has existed for years. According to Nigeli Gould Davies, an associate fellow of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, it has effectively been used by the global body to compel policy change in a nation’s course of action, deter future actions and send strong warning of the consequence of the unacceptable actions by threatening retaliation, and in case after case used to condemn violations of the international order. Sanction has the capacity to; disrupt trade, impose cost on a target state. These costs are not an end in themselves, but a means of achieving political goals and upholding international order.

By contrast, the March 2014 sanction on Russia imposed by the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU), in response to its (Russia)occupation of Crimea remains the most serious of such sanctions in recent years.

The above fact notwithstanding, there are many factors this time around that will make sanction against Russia unsuccessful and ineffective.

For instance, a recent report indicates that such a sanction could not achieve much because Russia is an authoritarian, not a democratic state.  It is also a major power, not a small and isolated economy. Unlike other recent targets. Russia’s size makes it unusually resilient, and its critical role as an energy supplier.

It is capped with capacity for reducing vulnerability by trying to limit its use of dollars in trade and reserves. For instance, it was reported that after the April2018 US sanction was imposed, Russia sold 80% of its USA treasury bonds, possibly to preempt a potential asset freeze. And for the first time, more than half of Russia’s export to China was paid in currencies other than china.

In view of this fact, two things standout, first, Russia must learn to allow sanity prevail over emotion. As a country, they must remember that when soldiers are long in the field, the resources of the state are depleted. Expecting victory through military operation will remain elusive as history bears exemplified testimonies.

Secondly, universally,it is admitted that  ‘one way of condemning an action is to punish an individual and entities responsible for making and implementing it’. However, despite the validity of this position, this piece holds the opinion that in the present circumstance, the hour has come for the world to seek real victory via dialogue and not through conquest. The world needs victory that will render further hostility unnecessary.

This is the way to go.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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