Ending the Russia-Ukraine war
This is the zero hour. This is the time. We are in a time of war. Russia invades Ukraine in 2022 (The first was in 2014).
Could this current war spill over to a long term war? Is World War III on the horizon? These are the most feared questions on the lips of many people across the world today that are begging for an answer. Don’t forget that war, war is unpredictable. In any war, everybody is a loser. Nobody triumphs in any war.
For instance, the 1st World War negatively changed Europe and the rest of the world beyond recognition. Ditto for the 2nd World War. Although Adolf Hitler died many years ago, he lives today. He lived in so many ideological contraptions tearing the world apart. He lives in the warmongers of the 21st Century.
Coming nearer home, since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War in 1970, Nigeria has known no peace. The ghost of Biafra is still hovering and haunting everybody in Nigeria. So, the conduct and cost of war cannot always be controlled or anticipated. The words of General Sherman must not be forgotten: “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of war of the wounded, who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”
I agree with Sherman. War is hell. The Russia-Ukraine war is only two weeks old yet we have witnessed more human casualties, more vengeance and more desolation as if the war had lasted for many years. At the time of writing, not less than three million Ukrainians were already in need of humanitarian assistance. Even though FIFA had refused to yield to pressure to ban Russia from participating in the next World Cup, the world’s highest football body had ruled that no FIFA sporting event would be held in Russia under the Russian flag. Meanwhile, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic had sworn not to play Russia in the 2022 World Cup play-off matches. Nearly 300 people including civilians and children had been killed in the Russia-Ukraine war.
More than 100,000 Ukrainians had fled their country in search of escape at the Polish-Ukrainian borders, metro and bus stations. People of other nationalities including Nigerian students studying in Ukraine had similarly fled Ukraine for their safety.
The war propaganda machinery of the two countries was very strong. While Russia claimed that it had completely decapitated Ukraine, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky had claimed that his army had crushed the Russian soldiers. Meanwhile, a Nigerian mother in Lagos cries inconsolably for her son, who is one of the 5,600 Nigerian students studying in Ukraine. She wants to know the fate of her son. Is her son dead or among the uncountable Nigerians heading for the borders in order to try to escape to Poland?
Those who think they are doing their duty in waging a war may be oblivious of the reasons that justify going to war or how a just war may be conducted. In his speech, Vladimir Putin explains that amid the danger posed to Russian territory by the advancement of the U.S. led-North Atlantic Alliance “pumped up with the most modern weapons”, Russia had no other option but to invade Ukraine. It is obvious that the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is another way devised by Putin to get at the U.S., the perennial enemy of Russia. In other words, what is at play in the Russia-Ukraine war is the miscalculation of personal pride and ego, which was one of the causes of the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
But according to the Editors of the First Things Magazine, there are two criteria for a just war. The first is the doctrine of jus ad bellum, which deals with the cause of war. And the second ius in bello deals with the conduct of war. The first one says that a just war must be defensive, aimed at protecting the innocent against unjust aggressors. War must be a last resort. It must have been initiated with the right intention, and a reasonable expectation that the means employed in prosecuting the war must be proportionate to the ends sought. Ius in bello dictates that no unnecessary force should be used in prosecuting the war and there should be no intentional killing of civilians.
Now, in the light of the foregoing, is President Vladimir Putin justified in invading Ukraine? I do not think so. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of the doctrines of jus ad Bellum and ius in bello. Above all, Russia’s invasion of territorial integrity of Ukraine is a flagrant violation of article 2(4) of the UN Charter which has been recognised as customary international law. The said article prohibits Russia from using force to assault the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. Agreed, the Russia-Ukraine affairs that led to the present war are intrinsically super-complicated. Since 2014 Russia has been controlling the eastern part of Ukraine. For more than 10 years Ukraine had been complaining about the danger of the unipolar world order wherein the U.S. feels that it can do whatever it likes with NATO allies and even unilaterally change governments. Besides, for about 8 years Russia had been enmeshed in a civil war in eastern Ukraine trying to destroy the blockage of the Kyiv-controlled government. People were starving and groaning to death. There were mass casualties from the bombings from the Ukraine army and western-funded rogue militia. Even the Pope at that time was raising funds to alleviate the suffering of the eastern Ukrainians. Eventually Russia and other countries notably France and Germany tried to broker a peace deal/ceasefire which culminated in drawing up the Minsk agreement in 2014. This agreement was aimed at giving regional autonomy to the regions of Luhansk and Donetz. But unfortunately, the Kiev government not only reneged from the Minsk accord or agreement but allowed the CIA-backed militia to continue fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Having said this, the latest invasion of Ukraine by Russia is completely uncalled for. There was no immediate provocation or aggression from Ukraine justifying the invasion. Putin boasts that even though the U.S. and other NATO allies could have great financial, scientific, technological and military capabilities surpassing that of Russia, modern Russia ruled by Putin is one of “the most powerful nuclear powers in the world and, moreover, has certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapon. So, Putin is convinced that Russia is invincible on land, air and sea and therefore no direct attack on Russia will lead to its defeat. But as I said earlier, war can be unpredictable. Right now things are not working in the way Putin had planned.
Receiving sophisticated weapons from the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany and other NATO allies, Ukraine is putting up stiffer resistance than envisaged and contemplated by Putin. This is why Putin has ordered his nuclear forces on his alert which has tensions of the possibility of nuclear weapons being used in the ongoing war and the dangers such action portends for mankind. Putin probably took this line of action to further intimidate Ukraine into submission or surrender. But the Ukraine foreign Minister has said that Ukraine will not surrender or retreat to give up a single inch of its territory.
President Putin should humbly accede to the efforts towards the amicable resolution of the Russia-Ukraine crisis in order to bring the ongoing war to an end. He should bury his thought of using a nuclear weapon in the war. The whole world is against the use of nuclear weapons in any war. Therefore Putin should bow to the collective voices calling for a peaceful resolution of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Nothing is gained in spilling innocent human blood. There is a popular adage that goes like this: one person cannot be greater or wiser than everybody.
You cannot clap with one hand. Nobody is a single verse. So Putin should re-think. If the comity of nations is openly sending weapons to Ukraine for its successful prosecution of the war it means that equity is on the side of Ukraine. Putin must understand that war has become unpopular in this age. Many nations want to give peace a chance. In any case, unlike the Ukraine army whose morale is so high, the Russian soldiers are not so enthusiastic about violating the territorial sovereignty of an independent nation. Besides, in Russia thousands upon thousands of Russians are protesting against the invasion. This is a subtle way of telling Putin that his invasion of Ukraine is uncalled for. More importantly, the people of Russia and Ukraine have the same cultural and historical affinity. Ukraine used to be a part of Russia. There are many Russians in Ukraine and vice-versa. The people from both countries see themselves as brothers and sisters. They even inter-marry among themselves. They share common religious and cultural beliefs.
Therefore world leaders and men and women of goodwill should broker peace between the two warring countries in order to bring the war to an end. Pope Francis has called for an immediate end to the Russia-Ukraine war. Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 2022. The Next day, Friday, February 25 2022, Pope Francis broke all diplomatic protocols in order to visit the Russian Embassy being situated on Via della Conciliazione in Rome to express his personal concern about the outbreak of the war. The Pope has appealed for a ceasefire in Ukraine. Pope Francis said: I have great pain in my heart because of the worsening of the situation in Ukraine….I appeal to all sides to abstain from any action that could provoke more suffering to the populations, destabilising coexistence among nations and discrediting international law…Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next 2 March, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day”, the Pontiff said.
Other heads of nations are urged to join Pope Francis in brokering peace between Russia and Ukraine. Humanity needs now more than ever to rediscover the part of true concord. Peace and international law are closely linked to each other. Law favours peace. Peace thrives in the crannies of law and justice.