Plain peace proposal
Tanks are rolling. First on one side, then on the other. None trust the other one. Both parties claim to intend peace while accusing the other of destabilising it. Thereby justifying to increase military presence even more, which in turn uses the other party to justify their further armament.
Can this end well? If so, how?
Situations like the current one in eastern Europe require simple, pragmatic and transparent solutions; so that the general public can be witness, notary and I’d even say judge – and see true intentions. The following proposed, most simple and thereby least flawed mechanism ensures either peace – in case both parties are benevolent – or exposes the true aggressor(s).
Both sides feel uneasy with military buildup near borders. Those buildups are mostly transparent, because both sides have satellite pictures seeing where military and equipment moves and parks.
The US, Ukraine and the related parties (the West) should propose to Russia, Belarus and the related parties (the East) the following:
1. West and East agree on how much military near their shared borders are desirable. Maybe a reasonable, small border control. Of course no heavy equipment like tanks or missiles.
2. One side removes 5% of their military from the border area within 3 days. After that, the other party does the same. This will be repeated until the amount in 1. is met.
3. If there are any issues during the process, the parties meet and discuss again.
If the West proposes to move first in Step 2, they’d prove their willingness to secure peace by only risking 5% of their initial fighting power and the East would have no reason to decline that offer, other than having bad intentions; which subsequently would be made apparent to everyone.
Everyone’s true intentions would be unmasked and the public could judge who’s just and who is not. It could observe how the parties react to and implement the proposals.
That way the main target – peace – would be reached the fastest and directest without anybody needing to trust the other one, other than the small percentage required by the party moving first.
After that, further issues can be discusses in calm and without human life as poker chips.
But since the crisis started and still is – at least officially – about security concerns, this kind of resolution mechanism itself could be the solution and can be contractually implemented permanently, to take away fears of future military conflicts.
If Blinken at least proposes this in the written response to Lavrov’s paper, the West would prove their peaceful intentions and Russia would have to work towards peace – or at least show cards.
Endnote: With details of step 1.-3. can be dealt with in a precise manner in an agreement, but generally speaking:
Heavy instruments of warfare are bulky and not easily hideable, especially in the satellite age. Even if there were large hangars, where war material might hide from satellite pictures, it can be trackable how much equipment was moved to there or at least estimated how much and what equipment fits in there. In case of doubt, observers from the other party or from a neutral party – f.i. the UN, Singapore, Switzerland etc. – could send observers in person to inspect the border area for war machinery and the adherence to what was agreed upon.
Also, exact definitions such as how many kilometres from the border still constitutes ‘border area’ and so forth can and should be dealt with precisely, after bilateral negotiation and agreement, in the small print.