The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused immense damage to not only the two conflicting countries but also European and other countries, especially poor developing nations, because it has triggered energy and food crises.
The continued escalation of the conflict and lack of diplomacy over the past eight months to end the conflict do not bode well for the global economy and people around the world. The conflict can be resolved and peace restored only through diplomatic means, not military power.
NATO's ongoing annual nuclear drills in Northwestern Europe, including in Belgium, along with a similar exercise by Russia expected to be held soon, have raised grave concerns that the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which many believe is a proxy war between Russia and the US-led NATO, could spell disaster for humankind if it escalated into a nuclear showdown.
Nothing can be taken for granted, even though the possibility of a nuclear war remains extremely low. But an increasing number of politicians and political observers are worried because such a human catastrophe cannot be fully ruled out.
On Monday, 30 liberal members of the US House of Representatives urged President Joe Biden to shift course in his Ukraine strategy and pursue direct diplomacy with Russia to end the conflict. The lawmakers led by Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of Congressional Progressive Caucus, in a letter to Biden, said: "It is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict."
That’s why it was heartening to see some national leaders, development experts and corporation chiefs assemble in Berlin on Tuesday for a conference on Ukraine’s post-conflict reconstruction
"We urge you to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, engage in direct talks with Russia, explore prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties that will allow for a sovereign and independent Ukraine," the letter said.
In the US Congress, some lawmakers have raised questions about sustaining the massive financial and military support for Ukraine. Some Republican lawmakers have even threatened to cut the military aid to Ukraine if they win enough seats in the midterm election in November to take control of the Congress.
The liberal lawmakers' bold letter is sadly considered politically incorrect by many of their peers, especially some Democrats who believe it will help the Republicans in the midterm elections. Under pressure, Jayapal retracted the letter on Tuesday.
In the Vatican, French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the prospects for peace in his meeting with Pope Francis on Monday. Macron is among the few European Union leaders who have been making diplomatic efforts to help end the conflict but his efforts have sadly been criticized as appeasement of Russia by some EU member states and their leaders, who seem to believe they can end the conflict and win peace by sanctioning Russia and isolating it from the international community.
Former German chancellor Angela Merkel, who understands the situation much better than many global leaders, said early this month that Europe can achieve lasting peace only with the involvement of Russia. However, many Western leaders view the remarks and warnings by people exercising such common sense as appeasement of Russia, perhaps because they feel Russia will cease to exist or vanish from the world map due to the effects of severe US and EU sanctions.
That's why it was heartening to see some national leaders, development experts and corporation chiefs assemble in Berlin on Tuesday for a conference on Ukraine's post-conflict reconstruction. The conference was hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
But to commence Ukraine's reconstruction, EU leaders first need to drastically step up diplomatic efforts to help end the conflict. A prolonged conflict will not only make Ukraine's reconstruction much more difficult and costly, but also run the risk of a wider, more devastating war, a war that could wipe out all mankind given the massive nuclear arsenal possessed by Russia and the US.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.