Putin should take note of the views of the global community and end the war
The suspension of Russia from the UN Human Rights Council has turned the global spotlight on the civilian killings in Ukraine. The U.S. sponsored resolution in the UN General Assembly was approved by 93 votes against 24, with 58 abstentions that included India. Russia has faced immense criticism after bodies were found, from where Russian troops withdrew following the Istanbul talks . Russia claims it to be ” staged events and fakes ” . While the truth should be established in an independent UN-monitored probe, there is no doubt that civilians were targeted . According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 1,611 civilians have been killed and 2,227 injured in Ukraine since the war began. Russia cannot evade it’s responsibility for these losses. When Russia began the invasion, President Vladimir Putin had said the main objectives of what he called the ” special military operation” were the ” demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine. Considering the three front war Rissia launched , it was evident that Moscow wanted to meet its real objectives -whatever they were –quickly.
But Ukraine’s fierce resistance, especially in the north, has changed the course of the conflict, which now looks like a war of attrition, focusing on Ukraine’s east.
Now, both Ukraine and Russia are in difficult situations. The Ukrainians, with military and financial aid from West, have pushed back in the north, but lost territories in the east and the south. Given the power imbalance ,it is unlikely that Ukraine can regain the lost territories. Russia now seems to have been bogged Down in the battlefield, with international criticism mounting on its war conduct. What is in the best interest of all parties is a cessation of hostilities and a diplomatic solution.
The Istanbul talks had opened a path towards peace . According to the Ukrainian proposals , President Zelensky has agreed to accept neutrality in return for multilateral security assurances. He is also ready for a consultation period of 15 years for Crimea, which russia annexed in 2014 , and discuss the status of the self declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics in a summit with Mr. Putin. It was after these proposals that the Russians announced their pull back from the north. But the Bucha killings appear to have clouded the peace process . The investigation into the civilian killings should go in parallel and not derail the diplomatic process . Russia should follow up on its words with more demonstrable actions to end the hostilities.
The war has damaged it’s economy and it’s reputation as a great power , while causing unspeakable losses and destruction in Ukraine. The most important message from the UN body to Moscow is that it should cease the fire and take the path of diplomacy immediately.