War in Ukraine: questions of credibility

War in Ukraine: questions of credibility

The point of view of Pascal Boniface

No clearing in sight on the Ukrainian front. A relative status quo after the Russian failure to reach Kiev and the failure of the Ukrainian counter-offensive to reconquer the Donbass, to which are added concerns about Washington's long-term commitment, the absence of an alternative to Vladimir Putin in hope in Moscow, and Europeans who despite everything remain fairly united among themselves and in solidarity with kyiv.

What is at stake in Ukraine? In Western discourse, it is above all about our values. Our values, of course, since there is a war of aggression, we must call it what it is: a conquest of territories by force in which, moreover, documented war crimes have been committed. But it is not only to defend our values ​​that we are committed alongside Ukraine, it must be recognized. In other territories, in other conflicts, our values ​​are also called into question and we say nothing, or few things, and above all we do not act. This is so visible in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The promptness of Western chancelleries to condemn the – inadmissible – war crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, the regularity with which they are mentioned in the media, contrast with the timidity of the denunciation of war crimes in Gaza, which are moreover committed against a civilian population subjected to a blockade and organized famine. How many minutes of images on permanent news channels, how many newspaper front pages on Ukraine? How much in Gaza?

Western states do not have the same investment in helping countries other than Ukraine, which also face territorial conquests or war crimes. This is explained by the fact that this conflict is taking place on the European continent. But also because Russia is a geopolitical rival. In the conflict in Ukraine, the West is also acting out of self-interest. Because if the values ​​they defend are universal principles – violation of international law, violation of human rights, war crimes, etc. – why so much emotion regarding Ukraine and so much indifference regarding North Kivu, Sudan, Burma, etc.? ? It is not shameful to have interests. Moreover, if we do not accept them, a climate of suspicion is created around the motivations for our positioning. Certainly, Westerners are mobilizing to defend their values, but also to defend their interests which are being challenged in Ukraine. And this is above all why they oppose Russia. This was everything I developed in the first chapter of my book published on August 30, 2023 War in Ukraine, the geopolitical shock wave (Eyrolles, August 2023). But the debate on this point has been largely obscured in the media space, a little less on social networks.

Western countries have made significant efforts to help Ukraine in order to defend their interests. They devote significant sums while suffering the economic impact of the war, like the rest of the world. They abandoned significant assets in Russia – which greatly helped Vladimir Putin who was able to redistribute to obligated people, old or new, 100 billion of assets abandoned by the West – not wanting to appear, particularly in the face of accusations from Volodymyr Zelensky, as accomplices in the Russian war effort.

This commitment is accompanied by multiple declarations indicating that Western credibility is at stake in this war. As a result, it is impossible for them to stand by and do nothing, and they cannot accept a ceasefire under current conditions, as requested by the countries of the South. A ceasefire, at present, would mean the maintenance of territorial conquests made by Russia since February 24, 2022 and even since 2014 since Russia's sovereignty over Crimea is not recognized.

By repeatedly repeating that their strategic credibility was at stake, Western countries have transformed a declaration of principle into factual reality. If the war ended under current conditions, the West would have lost much of its strategic credibility in its own eyes, with Russia and with the rest of the world, including China. They therefore want to maintain their support for Ukraine so as not to undermine this credibility and so that Ukraine does not fall into Russia's hands.

How far are Westerners ready to go? The problem is that if things continue like this, the war may last a long time. The idea that a step should be taken to help Ukraine is spreading. It would not be a question of maintaining the status quo current, but to win the war and thus recover the territories that Ukraine lost by sending Western troops to reverse the balance of power, both in terms of military equipment and from a demographic point of view. The idea of ​​“preparing for war if we want peace” and not giving up this option is therefore progressing. But, very often, when preparing for war, it is difficult to obtain peace.

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