Ukraine armoured personnel carrier
Armoured personnel carrier (APC) of the 92nd separate mechanised brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces move to park in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region on January 31, 2022 Image Credit: AFP

The chances of war in Ukraine seems to be waning as political manoeuvring continues to dominate the scene despite the tough talk from all sides.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday insisted that his country was not interested in war but that the United States was trying to drag Russia into war in Ukraine “to contain Russia’s development”. The US meanwhile insists that it was “committed to preventing a conflict that is in no one’s interest,” as per a tweet by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A military conflict in Ukraine will of course will be catastrophic, nothing short of a new world war. The stakeholders, Russia, the US and Nato undoubtedly recognise the gravity of such an event.

They might be talking tough, with the US and its western allies threatening unprecedented sanctions on the Russian leadership. That is part of an ongoing sort of ‘open negotiations’, however that will likely lead to either an agreement at best or a perhaps a stalemate at worst. As Blinken said, nobody is interested in war.

An imminent invasion

The US and Nato accuse Russia of amassing nearly 100,000 troops, equipped with heavy arms on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine. They warn that a Russian invasion of the neighbouring country was imminent.

Moscow denies the allegations but argues that its military movements were necessary — a buffer against potential deployment in western military hardware and troops close to its borders. It has demanded security guarantees that Nato refrains from threatening its borders.

President Putin on Tuesday said the US was ignoring those concerns, including a long-standing demand that Nato stops any further expansion to the east.

However, on Tuesday, both Russia and the US signalled their commitment to dialogue. Blinken said Washington was willing to discuss “mutual security concerns”, following a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

So, the hope for de-escalation is there. Brinkmanship still is part of international politics — raising the bar high to gain maximum leverage. But there is an underlying sense of optimism that became obvious in recent days as both Moscow and Washington affirmed their willingness to negotiate a way out of this crisis.

The world has yet to overcome its biggest crisis in a very long time — the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 continues to pose a clear and present danger to life and economy worldwide.

More than 5.7 million lives have been lost to the pandemic. The international community needs to focus its efforts on defeating this ruthless invisible enemy. Surely, the US and Russia realise this fact.