By Rene Wadlow.
16 Apr 2021 – The meeting today in Paris of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the French President Emmanuel Macron highlights the tensions between Ukraine, the separatist regions of Donbass and Luhansk and the Russian Federation. France and Germany are the lead mediators in what is called the “Normandy Initiative” for resolution of the Ukraine-Donbass-Russia conflict.
Tensions have grown recently with increased violence along the lines of contact between Ukraine and Donbass and the increased number of Russian troops along the frontier. It is likely that the change in presidential administration in the U.S.A. is one aspect of this increase in tensions. Both the U.S.A. and Russia want to remind each other that they are there. In the background is the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO which obviously Russia wants to avoid. Also in the background is the Ukrainian government’s recent approval of a “Strategy for Deoccupation and Reintegration of Crimea” and its Black Sea port of Sevastopol.
While it is unlikely that there will be an escalation of violence with an entry of Russian troops into Ukraine or the reverse, an attack on Russian soil, saber rattling can get out of hand and lead to unforeseen consequences.
The question which faces us as peace-builders is “What can we do?” to help reduce these tensions. The Association of World Citizens sent this past week an Appeal for increased mediation efforts to the authorities of the Normandy Initiative, France and Germany. It is certain that the French and German diplomats are already aware of the dangers of the situation, but it is useful that non-governmental voices be heard. Are there avenues for Track II exchanges or non-governmental mediation efforts? Related areas of tension are also in flux: Syria, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh. We need to see what doors might open, and what we can usefully propose.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Apr 2021.
René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.