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DC Edit | Amid superpower games, Ukraine becomes a pawn


Published on: March 23, 2023 | Updated on: March 23, 2023

 The chain of events was clear in its suggestion that there has been no progress in Mr Xi's well-intentioned political and diplomatic plan to find an end to the war. (Photo: AFP)

The lines have been drawn. In a multipolar world in which the United States does not call all the shots anymore after shedding its role as the honest broker trying to settle all the world’s disputes, there is an increasingly stronger Chinese presence, especially in the bloc of nations it is bringing together to push back against the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which is aimed at containing the dragon.

It is a matter of regret that there was no light at the end of the tunnel regarding some kind of initiation of thought on a peace agreement to end the Ukraine war after the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high profile visit to Moscow for meetings with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Ukraine is a mere pawn in the games the superpowers are playing.

Far from any visible promotion of Mr Xi’s eight-point peace plan with Mr Putin, there were only more of Russia’s deadly drone and missile strikes on civilians in Rzhyshchiv and Zaporizhzhya in a fresh round of aggression aimed at Ukraine. The chain of events was clear in its suggestion that there has been no progress in Mr Xi’s well-intentioned political and diplomatic plan to find an end to the war.

Inter-bloc politics accentuated by the Ukraine war has only heightened with the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visiting the war-torn country through a tortuous train ride from the Polish border as the airspace over Ukraine remains closed due to the war. He was the seventh of the G-7 leaders to do so and his visit, as well as a promise to deliver on promised assistance of $7.1 billion plus a new grant of $470 million in energy, was a clear signal of which side the world’s biggest powers are on with regard to the war that Mr Putin began with his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

To try and bring an end to the war cannot hinge only on China’s brokering efforts now as the West and Nato nations have taken a huge stake in it after helping defend Ukraine with a show of financial clout and sophisticated weaponry, including planes from Slovakia and Poland. In fact, the UK was dragged deeper into the issue thanks to its supply of depleted uranium shells to Ukraine that can pierce the armour-body of tanks.

An important point China has raised in its peace plan is that nuclear weapons should never be used and to this day Mr Putin has not crossed the line despite the awkward stalemate that his army has got into in a war that now seems unwinnable for the Russian supremo who had been promised an early conquest of Ukraine by his generals.

The West has been dismissive of Mr Xi’s peace initiative, looking at his Moscow visit as aimed at spreading China’s influence in his third term as President. But it is clear that Ukraine has become a pawn in all this, and a foot soldier without a voice at that, even as it is getting pounded by Russia that has not spared colleges, schools and even hospitals in its bombing spree.

As the major powers take harder positions with China and Russia signing on to "strategic cooperation" to bump up further their "no limits" partnership and cementing China’s new position as Russia’s most important trading and economic partner, the peace efforts seem to have been pushed to the backburner.