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Avoiding further escalation in Ukraine

Catholic scholars offer their contributions on the quest for peace: in this article, Raul Caruso, Professor of Peace Economics at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, offers his perspective on how the world can help avoid further escalation in Ukraine.

In light of Pope Francis' numerous appeals for peace in Ukraine, and in line with its mission of global cooperation for the Common Good based on Catholic identity, the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) has collected viewpoints from various experts in International Relations, Economy, and Theology from its partner universities. The contributions, including this article by Professor Raul Caruso, are intended to provide a broader perspective on the work for peace. 

By Raul Caruso
Professor of Peace Economics at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Three points of discussion to avoid further escalation in Ukraine

On February 24th, 2022, Vladimir Putin launched a large-scale attack against Ukraine. Many countries have severely condemned it. Tension has now escalated. All governments and diplomats ought to work tirelessly to avoid further worsening and protect civilians. In this regard, I raise three additional points worth discussing to avoid further escalation in the near future.

First, although the focus is on Russia, US and Europe in these hours, it is time to reinvigorate a broad dialogue with China. Cooperation with China is now imperative. In particular, since western states are imposing a series of major economic sanctions against the Kremlin, China may become the key actor in this scenario. The sanctions could prove ineffective if a large trading partner like China takes over the business of western countries with Russia. Recently, Bejing and Moscow have strengthened their ties, and China is a major importer of Russian oil and gas. China could increase its imports and could, in that way, heavily support the Kremlin. The US and European countries have to avoid this.

Second, albeit unpopular and ineffective in the short term, it is time to revive global policies and agreements on the arms trade. In recent years, the ambiguous approach of western governments to the arms trade has contributed to the fragmentation of the arms market. Western governments have become competitors in the global arms market rather than sticking to traditional relationships to restrict the market. Also, arms sales have become a central element of Russian foreign policy and some countries are now tied to the Kremlin because of this link. The signal that must be sent to the world is that democracies are committed to establishing peace. Therefore, any further ambiguity in the global arms market must be avoided.

Finally, European democracies of the EU have to commit themselves to finalizing expansion towards the Balkans. There, Putin has a substantial impact on the region because of his support of a member of the Bosnian tripartite presidency, namely the Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik. In recent months, tension has increased in the region. Needless to say, a new war in Bosnia would be the worst-case scenario for Europe. In summary, reaching a cease-fire is extremely urgent but working to change the global scenario of instability is also necessary. 

25 February 2022, 09:50