To achieve peace, both Russia and the West must compromise

Phumlani Majozi says the invasion must be condemned, although the West too bears blame

As somebody who posts often on social media, I have noticed that there are many South Africans who do not understand how destabilizing the Ukraine-Russia war is to the global economy,  and how damaging it could be to the whole world if the escalation continues.

These South Africans see the Ukraine-Russia war as something very remote and that does not impact South Africa in any way. This  is a fallacy. Because what happens in countries that are part of the international trade system and produce crude oil, will affect us. 

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia should not be surprising to those who follow international politics. The Russia-West relations deteriorated over the years, and Ukraine became a battleground for the two worlds. How this crisis evolves in the next few days, or weeks, is dependent on whether the interested parties  elect diplomacy, or a continuing war. 

The war is inflicting huge damage to the people of Ukraine who are being bombarded by the Russian military, and to the people of Russia who must now endure the painful sanctions imposed by the West. The Russian people could also experience bombardment in future, and that will be damaging too.

The conflict has pushed crude oil prices up. Brent crude is now more than $110 per barrel. Like the price of any good or service, the producer or seller benefits from an increase in the price of that particular good or service. The buyer suffers, because they now have to buy that good or service at a higher price.

With respect to this increased oil price, the major producers are the happiest. For buyers and importers of crude oil like South Africa, increased oil prices are damaging, as we have to buy at a higher price, which increases fuel prices in the country.

The oil price increase adds to the country's inflation. And the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) could respond with the interest rate hikes, in an effort to quell increased inflation. As Business Day reports this week, "the Ukraine invasion fuels fears of faster rate hikes" in South Africa. South Africans are already feeling the pain with the record high fuel price.

Equities  around the world have also been negatively affected by the Ukraine-Russia war that has become uncertain.

As this conflict escalates, we are all losing. People of Ukraine are the ones in a very miserable situation and many people could lose their lives. In wars, there are no winners. And if the war turns nuclear, that will mark the end of this humanity.

The South African government has been disgracefully wrong not to vote for a resolution calling for Russia to withdraw troops from Ukraine at the United Nations. I see nothing wrong about condemning Russia's invasion, and simultaneously acknowledging that the West is also to blame for this war. An independent country can do that.

Russia and the West must cease fire and work toward peace! In the process of seeking peace, the West will also need to compromise because they have been at fault themselves. 

Professor Jefferey Sachs wrote in the Financial Times two weeks ago that the United States should compromise on NATO, to save Ukraine. That Russia has opposed NATO's expansion for thirty years. That stance, by Russia, needs to be understood by the West.

This is basically a similar view held by former US Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. Kissinger has written that the West "must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country.", referring to strong historical ties between Russia and Ukraine. He also proposes that Ukraine not join NATO; that it must rather be a bridge between the West and Russia. The leaders of Russia must acknowledge that the people of Ukraine have and should have a right to choose their economic and political associations around the world. All that from Kissinger,  is strategic and sounds sensible to me.

This Russia-Ukraine war could have been avoided a long time ago if Dr. Kissinger’s advice was heeded. The issues could have been discussed, agreements reached. But of course that did not happen; because you know, to politicians it's all about egos. Now we are here - where thousands of Ukrainians are suffering.

The Ukraine-Russia crisis needs Kissingerian diplomacy - a diplomacy that acknowledges the importance of history, the importance of mutual respect, and the importance of compromise in negotiations. This continuing escalation could destroy the whole world!

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.