by Xin Ping
As the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Ukraine issue inevitably came under the spotlight. The slogan "Stand With Ukraine" and weeping for the Ukrainian people more or less became "mealtime prayers" that featured regularly in HRC speeches, especially those of Western countries.
According to latest data of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 8,000 non-combatants have lost their lives and nearly 13,300 have been injured since the outbreak of the conflict. No doubt, victims of war deserve the sympathy and support of the entire world, and peace is the only option lying ahead of us.
Yet the way the West "stands with Ukraine" is awfully puzzling. Instead of calling for peace talks, British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly mentioned explicitly the use of sanctions in his speech at the high-level segment of the HRC session. At a side event concerning Ukraine, some Western countries reaffirmed their support for Ukraine "no matter how long it takes" without mentioning peace talks, as if they were offering Ukraine sticks and asking Ukrainians to calm a bear's anger by poking it.
What's more puzzling is this fervor "to fight fire with fire" reached such a pitch that Ukraine supporters believe that the only way out of the crisis is not bringing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but to the battlefield to fight until the very last Ukrainian.
For them, even the slightest allusion to dialogue and peace talks is tagged as "pro-Russian" and "soft," while supporting Ukraine to fight an endless war has become the touchstone of a country's respect for democracy and human rights. Those countries who dare to suggest otherwise are arbitrarily labelled as "authoritarian" and must be denounced.
Even worse, lavish offers of military aid have become a requisite for Western countries to "defend democracy and freedom." While some countries are still wearing the fig leaf of providing "non-lethal support," others have clamored for "no limits" on military aid. In the past year, the European Union spent a whopping 3.6 billion euros on Ukraine, and the United States, a true warmonger, frittered away 31.8 billion U.S. dollars of taxpayers' money. A month ago, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Ukraine and brought Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a new 450-million-euro assistance package, beaming as if incognizant of the ravages of weapons and war.
For many countries, the year 2022 was not an easy one. Ukraine, whose economy was paralyzed, finance collapsed and manpower was in shortage, muddled along on Western aid. Russia suffered heavily from extreme sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. The United States was faced with the dilemma of whether to keep carrying the unbearably heavy burden of assisting Ukraine or to fall down on its promise. Europe ended up being a battlefield again more than seven decades after World War II, hurry-scurry with soaring energy prices, capital flight and public discontent.
"To fight fire with fire" is not and should never be the answer to the Ukraine crisis. Otherwise, why does humanity assemble negotiating tables and establish international mechanisms and initiatives supporting dialogues? We live in an age rife with challenges, but also full of hope. Human civilization has lasted for 10,000 years. Undoubtedly, there is a wiser way to achieve a lasting peace in the world.
Editor's note: Xin Ping is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for CGTN, Global Times, Xinhua News Agency, etc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.