(First rank, from R) Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the leaders of the US-led military alliance pose for a family photo at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

As the Russian operation in Ukraine enters its 5th week today, there is a greater need for all key players, particularly the Nato countries meeting in Brussels, to push for de-escalation.

There seems to be an emerging hawkish tendency among some of the 30-nation Western alliance to put “all options” on the table to force Russia to end its military campaign, which began on February 24. Reports from the ‘extraordinary’ meeting of Nato leaders indicate that some of the member states are “unhappy” with the current attitude of the alliance towards the 30-day-old war.

Since the beginning of the war, Nato leaders have been very careful in their public statements, emphasising repeatedly that they will not get involved militarily in the conflict, nor will they impose a no-fly zone as Ukraine has been asking since day one.

The West has retaliated politically and economically, imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia. However, it has been clear that the alliance was not entirely united in those measures, especially European countries that depend on Russia for their energy needs.

A growing crisis

The Brussels’ meeting on Thursday was supposed to iron out those differences and unite the alliance in the face of a growing crisis that has so far forced 4 million Ukrainians out of their homes in to neighbouring countries.

Reports suggest that some of the countries, including the United States and those closer to the conflict, are pushing for a more hawkish stance to stop the war, despite calls by the majority to tread carefully in a conflict that could well become a global war with massive consequences.

A pre- summit statement by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underscores the majority’s position. “We are determined to do all we can to support Ukraine, but we have a responsibility to ensure that the war does not escalate beyond Ukraine, and become a conflict between Nato and Russia,” he told reporters in Brussels.

This is indeed time for utmost restraint. There is a need to engage Russia, which continues its bilateral talks with Ukraine. To prevent a wider conflict and to avoid the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, Moscow needs to end its military operations and Nato must announce its unequivocal readiness to discuss regional security arrangements that meet the legitimate security needs of all parties.

As the UN chief Antonio Guterres said this week, this is an unwinnable war. All parties stand to lose. Nato’s mission is delicate — one that must not be confrontational.