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Home Articles Flashpoints PEACE PROPOSAL 24 FEB 2023


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You are referred to the World Future Council's call for peace at


and to


The UN resolution calling for an end to the war in Ukraine is at:



War has now raged for exactly a year in Ukraine, as a direct result of its invasion by Russia. There is no sign of either a negotiation process that might possibly lead to peace, or even of any feelers toward peace by either side in the conflict. This is tragic.

Each side seems to be convinced that no matter how long the conflict persists, no matter how many lives of Ukrainians and Russians are lost, victory (however impossible to define) is in some way 'guaranteed'.

And, for both sides, nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of pure practicality it is unlikely either that Russia will 'defeat' Ukraine, in the sense of achieving full military occupation of Ukrainian territory, as the Russian military has shown itself incapable of matching Ukrainian military prowess. Russia has critical and deep seated problems in morale, discipline, and initiative – and deep down its personnel perhaps know in their heart of hearts that their cause is not just.

Ukraine on the other hand is hardly going to march against Moscow. The very maximum it can do – and even this will be extremely difficult – is expel Russian troops from its own territory, and then – a very big perhaps – re-conquer Crimea. The latter is a proposition that seems inherently problematic.

The point here is that for either side, a full and final victory is a mirage. It isn’t going to happen, or is at least unlikely.

Ukrainian resistance is is unlikely to collapse and with new armaments, Ukraine may, possibly, push back Russian forces. Nothing is certain.

And absent dramatic developments in Moscow, also not on any immediate horizon, Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine is also not going to collapse – absent a (wise but unlikely) decision by Kremlin leadership to withdraw from Ukraine.

In the meantime:


--The most serious and intense conflict since 1945 has been unleashed in Europe.


--Russia's place in the world and its possible future both as a key supplier of raw materials and energy, as a manufacturing country and as a trading partner has been smashed. The destruction of Nord-Stream is a mere symptom of a much wider phenomenon.


--There is a massive body count. If the war continues indefinitely, this will have a severe demographic impact on both societies, comparable with that of WW-I at least.


--The risk of escalation to nuclear conflict, either by use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe or by direct ascent to the use of strategic nukes, is as high as it has ever been. The position of the Doomsday Clock hands at an unprecedented 90 seconds to 'midnight' is sign enough of the risk the Ukraine conflict poses to civilisation as a whole, to humans everywhere, and to all living things.

This last alone is reason enough to halt the conflict. The use of a large number of strategic nuclear weapons, especially when targeted primarily at cities, would result in the prompt deaths of as many as 1-2 billion people. Those who were not incinerated, vaporised, buried or roasted alive in the first few indescribably horrible hours would be left to freeze and/or starve in semi-darkness. This is well known and hardly controversial.

Yet the probability of this remains unacceptably high and is hardly lowered by threats from Russian state TV on a more or less weekly basis to incinerate London, Berlin, Kiev, etc, as if unaware that at the very minimum, were these threats ever to become real, Russia itself would also disappear along with its decision-makers. But above all in such an event sequence, most humans together with the fabric of current hi-tech 'civilisation' would die. Those who did not would be worrying about basic survival, and learning from scratch how to do subsistence agriculture in NZ, Tasmania and Patagonia, along with how to make glass, bricks, and crude iron implements. AI would vanish in the first milliseconds of nuclear weapons use with EMP.

Russia seems only to be restrained by:

--Doubts about the actual physical effectiveness and reliability of Russia's nuclear deterrent forces. They may or may not actually function when called upon.

--Doubts about the military effectiveness of the use of tactical nukes, which may not prove to be at all useful against Ukrainian forces.

--Doubts about Russia’s ability to keep its leadership alive after nuclear use.

These seem to be dissuading Russia for now. These considerations might or might not deter a leadership that faces a more humiliating defeat than it currently is facing, from resorting to nuclear weapons use. They clearly do NOT dissuade it from making repeated THREATS to use nuclear weapons. The problem with making threats is that if they are convincing enough someone might assume they are indeed real, and try a pre-emptive, or a pre-pre-emptive, strike.

Assuming none of this takes place, and yet another year from now we all HAVENT been vaporized or left to freeze in the dark, then the 'meat-grinder' grinds on with catastrophic consequences for individual Ukrainians and Russians, and an ever mounting body count. We are somewhere around 140-150,000 casualties. At some point it will reach 200-300,000. Perhaps it will hit a million.

In fact, if there is NOT a nuclear conflict, the danger is that the conflict will gradually assume a lower and lower profile in the global consciousness until it achieves the status of current conflicts in Africa – conflicts whose actual body count far exceeds that of Ukraine (as of now), and even exceeds that of WW-II, yet of whose very existence the world is largely unaware.

Russia believes it has a chance to achieve victory on its own terms (complete occupation of Ukraine or of much of it), by sheer persistence and mass of bodies. Its stalled offensive against Bakhmut is a grisly illustration of that.

Ukraine believes it has a chance to achieve victory on ITS terms by not only expelling Russian forces from its pre-Feb 24 borders, but also by reclaiming both Donbass and Crimea.

This last is highly problematic. The arguments by which Ukraine itself has a right to determine its own future, apply equally to Crimea and Donbass. At the very least, some will argue that the future status of these regions should be determined not by military might – which might or might not go Ukraine’s way – but by formal, UN or OSCE – supervised and repeated, (i.e., more than once) – referenda.

However, this is a matter for a future negotiated settlement, as we argue there must be. Initially such details must be left open.

Whatever the precise shape of a just post-war configuration, what is critical NOW is to establish a PROCESS by which such a configuration could be negotiated – not a field of battle on which they could be fought out, but a just and equitable mode of negotiation by which differences could be bridged, and reasonable compromises adjusted.

A series of proposals for international security, prevention of war, and a just and sustainable peace is listed here:


While Russia's grievances over NATO expansion may be legitimate (or might be simply the result of Baltic nations in particular wishing to protect themselves against precisely what has taken place), invading another country is as illegitimate as it gets in international relations. In purely legal terms Russia has no option but to remove its troops from Ukraine 'yesterday'. In practical terms it may be more complicated. Nontheless, Russia's actions show contempt for international law and any reasonable orderly framework of relations between states. The voting pattern at the UN – 141 in favour with only 7 against , and 32 abstentions - shows Russia's lack of international support for its actions. Even China merely abstained, as did India.


Alyn Ware of the World Future Council notes that:

’“We call on Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine, withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory and enter into negotiations with Ukraine to resolve historical disputes and establish a lasting and just peace that guarantees the security of both nations,”


A process for opening negotiations is essential. This war cannot go on indefinitely: Either now or after countless more bodies or bits of bodies are bought home in plastic bags, there will have to be negotiation. As we saw, outright victory by either side is unlikely. What is required at the outset is not a detailed peace proposal, but a bare outline of a peace PROCESS.


I submit the following, with an acknowledgement of my debt to my friend Martyn from whom it came.

  1. A commitment by the warring parties not to use nuclear weapons

  2. A commitment by the warring parties not to use biological or chemical weapons.

  3. A commitment by the warring parties not to escalate the war.

  4. A commitment by the warring parties to explore ways and means to de- escalate the war.

  5. Guarantees of the personal safety of the political leadership of both the warring parties should they decide to step away from the war or step down from office.

  6. A mutual recognition that the cost of the war to the warring parties in blood and treasure is unconscionable.

  7. A willingness by the warring parties to explore ways and means of implementing a ceasefire on the ground supervised by an independent body, such as the United Nations, or any other body acceptable to the warring parties.

  8. An agreement by the warring parties to open an on going dialogue at the conclusion of the peace conference.  

The merit of this proposal is precisely that it does NOT spell out details, on which agreement is likely to be impossible or unlikely, and which might mean the process never even begins. The 'secret' is to get the parties actually to commit to such a process, and once committed, not to re-commence hostilities.

The alternative is a conflict that sputters (or roars) on indefinitely, or worse that escalates, intentionally or otherwise to a civilisation-destroying global thermonuclear war.

President Vladimir Putin, President Volodymir Zelensky, President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, you are urged to support, and to persist with, a negotiating process with the aim of terminating hostilities immediately, and ultimately to achieving a permanent, just and peaceful solution.

John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project
Co-Convenor, Abolition 2000 Working Group on Nuclear Risk Reduction

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