Ukraine could consider tactical surrender to avert complete ruination

Ukraine can save itself from road to destruction by making a tactical surrender in the eastern part of the country, following the example of France during Second World War

Visuals from Ukraine
Visuals from Ukraine

Subhash Chopra

France surrendered to Nazi Germany during the Second World War and saved the country and its heritage, architecture and entire social infrastructure from massive ruination in a great tactical move.

When tempers cooled at the end of the war under the multilateral gaze and guarantees of world powers, France and Germany signed the peace treaty and became the best of allies and friends over the years.

It took a few years to forget the bitter memories of the hostilities, but it paid off, leaving the two countries free from untold destruction.

The surrender by the Vichy forces under Marshal Petrine to Nazi Germany did exactly that. An historic lesson for warring factions past and future!

Ukraine too can save itself from that road to destruction by making a tactical surrender in the eastern part of the country. The surrender of the last remaining Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol steel plant complex could save a precious few thousand lives. The move could work as a breather for peace and pave the way for a lasting settlement.

After all, in the early stages of this war, Ukraine was prepared not to join the NATO alliance. A retreat from aspirational NATO alliance would go a long way in assuaging the hurt pride and loss of face for Russia.

India is ideally placed for a role as a peace broker in this war which is hurtling towards an Armageddon with unguided missiles.

This mad race must be stopped at the earliest. It has already gone on for well over two months. India's potential leverage with both President Putin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is virtually leading the western allies, is considerable. India's links with Russia are too well known and deep rooted. So are Britain's ties with India.

Prime Minister Johnson's two-day recent visit to India has been specially noted as it came at a time when he was under intense pressure at home over ‘party gate’ allegations involving him, his wife and others including British-born Indian-origin Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Johnson's Indian visit was meant to take pressure away from home troubles, but despite his best efforts to deflect attention by donning Indian turbans and letting the priests mark his forehead with 'tikka’ or ‘tilak', these troubles refused to go away. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's goodwill and expected defence and trade deals promise strengthening of ties. That in turn could influence Russia-British relations and make the world a safer place for all.

Yet, the trust gap between Britain and Russia remains critical. The photo-op of Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres sitting across a long elliptical table recently in Moscow without any results was most disheartening.

Even more disheartening was a Russian missile attack near Ukraine capital Kyiv pretty close to the UN chief's visit to the war-torn country. Visiting Kyiv’s outskirts, Guterres lamented: "When I see those destroyed buildings, I must say what I felt. I imagined my family in one of those houses that is now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic, part of the family eventually killed." So the war is an absurdity in the 21st century... the war is evil, and when one sees these situations, our heart, of course, stays with the victims."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky covered himself with little glory when he tried to score brownie points by suggesting that the UN chief Guterres should have visited Kyiv before going to Moscow as a point of priority. The world focus today is on peace efforts, not on any nationalist ego.

But peace must be pursued, notwithstanding any setbacks. There is no alternative to the all-important, absolute requirement of cessation of hostilities which have already gone too far. Ceasefire and peace now is the cry of the hour, here and now. Peace will follow as it has always followed all wars.

Now is the time to give peace a chance before any further damage is done to our world and the planet.

Meanwhile, the Russian grapevine says Moscow is keeping its peace pipe in covers till May 8 when it will announce victory marking the end of Second World War.

Be that as it may, let the peace feelers come now while the actual celebrations can wait till that hallowed date!

Speaking more recently in St. Petersburg, President Putin said the Ukraine conflict could go on for as long as necessary. The situation remains tense and war talk shows little sign of receding soon enough.

Western reports put the Russian soldiers' death toll so far at nearly 15,000. The Russian announcement of blanket sanctions against nearly 300 British MPs, preventing them from any visit for a dialogue or suspected espionage, can only further queer the pitch. The signs are ominous.

Adding fuel to fire, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called President Putin a 'rogue operator' who could 'invade' other countries such as Georgia and Moldova. The British minister was speaking at. London's Mansion House, regarded as a sounding board for government policies.

The talk of deploying weapons of mass destruction by Russia and counter attacks by Western allies has also added to the war noise. Weeks earlier, US President Joe Biden had, in a fit of petulance, branded President Putin a a "war criminal" -- stoking the fires instead of dousing them.

The British Foreign Secretary's has called on western countries to help push Russian troops out of Ukraine altogether, warning that if Putin succeeded in making territorial gains, he could inflict "untold further misery across Europe." Her bellicose utterances come as more logs into the already raging fire.

Now is the moment to sit back and recall a history lesson a la France of the Second World War era. Let Mariupol surrender to the Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine for the moment and declare ceasefire and avoid wholesale destruction as France did after the Nazi onslaught. That is how France was saved and that is how Ukraine can be saved today.

(Views are personal)

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