After the recent Istanbul-hosted peace talks on the Russia-Ukraine crisis have ended in a fiasco, is there any hope left for peace in the region?
Observers say humanity demands the crisis to end urgently. According to an estimate, the crisis has resulted in over 3455 civilian casualties and the exodus of more than 4.2 million Ukrainians. Besides, the ongoing crisis is having serious financial implications for the entire world.
Today, India is the only nation that can effectively mediate in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. For a state to succeed in mediation, it must be neutral and fair to the conflicting parties. India fulfils this basic condition. New Delhi has had a neutral, balanced, reasonable, and pacifist approach to the matter.
All eyes are on India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defuse this crisis. He has been in touch with Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky all these days. Both of them are said to trust him a lot. In harmony with its foreign policy tradition to advance world peace, New Delhi must mediate between Moscow and Kyiv and help them evolve a formula to peacefully co-exist with each other.
India could rope in Israel in this noble enterprise. Like New Delhi, Jerusalem has been neutral in the Ukraine crisis to defuse it. Israel has refused requests to supply Ukraine with military aid or to join international sanctions against Russia. However, it has supplied humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Both Moscow and Kyiv see Jerusalem as a genuine friend.
In the wake of the current crisis, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been in regular touch with Zelensky and Putin. According to a report, on February 25, just a day after the present crisis erupted, Zelensky requested Bennett to open a diplomatic channel with Moscow. Since then, Bennett has spoken numerous times to Zelensky and Putin both. One report goes that early last month, Bennett travelled to Moscow and met Putin in person. On March 23, 2022, Putin spoke with Bennett to update the latter on the Ukraine crisis.
Prime Minister Modi could also instruct South Block to get in touch with some of the world’s leading foreign policy experts, including the legendary former American Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and have inputs from them to defuse the Ukraine crisis. In March 2014, Kissinger wrote there should be no “demonization” of Putin. Europe should be with Russia in a cooperative international system. He warned the United States against “treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington.” Kissinger cautioned Russia against attempting “to impose a military solution.” He advised Ukraine to “function as a bridge” between Russia and NATO and not join the latter.
(The author is a New Delhi-based journalist)