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WHILE the world has been transfixed by the carnage in Gaza and Israel, the bloody calamity of the Russia-Nato confrontation in Ukraine has continued unabated.
It should not slip off the peace movement’s radar. In fact, now is the time to step up the pressure for a negotiated settlement.
One of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s own advisers until recently, Oleksiy Arestovych, has described the faltering counter-offensive against Russia as a “disaster.”
He points to the evident fact that no breakthrough of Russian lines has occurred and accuses the Kiev government of making strategic mistakes.
Going back to Ukraine’s borders of 1991 and reconquering Crimea is not going to happen, he says. Arestovych also points out that “the Russians can’t defeat us, we can’t defeat them.”
And indeed, Russia’s own army seems to have lost its capacity to mount a successful large-scale offensive following its numerous setbacks earlier in the war.
However, it appears able to mount a strong defence. President Vladimir Putin claims that “our forces are improving their positions in almost every area.”
In fact, a recent detailed analysis by the New York Times showed that the front line across southern and eastern Ukraine has hardly shifted in the course of this year, and that does not look like it will change.
There remain several obstacles in the way of peace. Ukrainian nationalists will not accept anything less than the restoration of pre-war boundaries, despite its military implausibility and the reluctance of many to return to Kiev rule.
Putin has yet to spell out clear terms for a settlement — but it should be noted that Russia does not even control all the territory of the regions it has unilaterally annexed.
The biggest obstacle to peace, however, remains the Nato powers. They blocked early negotiations to end the war and continue to pour ever more offensive weapons into the war zone.
The aim is to bleed Russia white, militarily and economically, and also send a message to China that it shouldn’t challenge the global hegemony of the US and its allies.
The rhetoric is of inflicting an unequivocal defeat on Russia, the better to preserve the present world order.
It is a vain project, as the global response to the war shows. Most states have no interest in propping up US power, and have ignored calls from Washington and London to denounce Russia and boycott it economically.
They seek peace talks, while Western governments court military escalation and economic disruption instead.
The already floundering campaign to isolate Moscow has been further set back by the response of Nato powers to the Gaza crisis.
Imperialist diplomats are unable to explain why governments should condemn breaches of international law and war crimes by Russia while the US and Britain endorse the same breaches and atrocities when carried out by Israel.
That is the global majority that the anti-war and solidarity movements in Britain need to align with.
It does not mean endorsing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine any more than it means supporting the massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas.
But it does require a thorough separation from ruling class policy here and a recognition that the same parliamentary front-bench consensus backing the slaughter in Gaza is also promoting the extension of the Ukraine war.
It involves demanding a ceasefire in both conflicts as the first step towards a more durable peace.
This weekend tens of thousands will demonstrate on the streets in solidarity with Palestine. Different as the conflicts are, the same energy needs to be directed at ending the stalemated war in Ukraine.
Across the world — the cause of labour is the cause of peace.
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