|“Map of Ukraine political simple city Kiew” |
by Sven Teschke CC BY-SA 3.0.
We see classic escalation features: increasing attacks on civilians (by the Russians); constant reference to historical contexts and narratives; arms build-up by multiple players; hardening rhetoric; polarization spouted by the public, not just politicians; the public (outside the country) talking “bravely” of war and why it is needed; the silencing of anyone who utters the word peace or compromise, belittling such approaches (often using the language of masculinity); multiple alliances that are material and historical; rapid shifts in alliances (not just in the region but elsewhere, for you conflict nerds Russia changing position recently on Yemen, for example); everyone over-estimating their war capabilities and miscalculating those of their enemy on all sides; and emotions being praised before reason in the media and by us all.
I do not know where this will go, but routes to de-escalation must be found urgently. I wish I had a magic bullet for this but don’t. However, it is crucial to think about routes to de-escalation as much as we are thinking about other issues like defence. This is hard when seeing the breaching of international law and human rights violations by Russia; it’s emotive. However, this is where we are right now…drifting fast…just an observation.