Austria and Hungary need to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Austria and Hungary need to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The conflict involving Ukraine, the indigenous Russians of the Donbass (Donbas) region and surrounding environs, and the armed forces of the Russian Federation is continuing unabated. At the same time, the threat of a wider war still exists along with other regional convulsions (Belarus, Moldova, and Georgia in the Caucasus – while hostilities continue between Armenia and Azerbaijan concerning Nagorno-Karabakh).

However, it is the economic convulsions, the massive loss of life on all sides in the conflict between Kiev (Kyiv) and Moscow, the threat of a war involving NATO and the Russian Federation, and the possibility of the nuclear angle that worries all sides.

Accordingly, mediation is needed to break the impasse. Hence, Austria and Hungary are well-placed to mediate between all parties involved in the ongoing crisis. After all, these two European Union nations and Serbia outside the European Union are more neutral in their approach to the conflict.

NATO powers and the European Union are staunchly pro-Ukraine and are propping up this nation economically, politically, and militarily. Thus the economic burden is extremely high for the pro-Ukraine camp. Naturally, it is also burdensome for the Russian Federation. Therefore, with Ukraine being unable to alter the course of the conflict (irrespective of some victories): and the Russian Federation and Russian indigenous forces in the Donbass also struggling to overcome Ukrainian resistance: a political solution is needed to end the conflict.

Alexander Schallenberg, the Foreign Minister of Austria, told Reuters, “To think that there won’t be Russia anymore and we can decouple in all areas is delusional.”

He continued, “Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky remain a part of European culture, whether we like it or not. It will continue to be our biggest neighbor. It will stay the second largest nuclear power in the world.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary said, “When Russia launched an attack, the West did not isolate the conflict, but lifted it onto an all-European level. It could have treated it as a local regional war, or a military conflict between two Slavic nations as Hungary suggested.” 

Orban also said, “Russia cannot win because the entire western world has lined up behind. At the same time, Russia is a nuclear power, and a nuclear power cannot be cornered because they may trigger a nuclear war.”

If NATO powers, the European Union, and G7 nations didn’t support Ukraine, the conflict would have ended by now. However, they are settled on continuing to support Ukraine at all costs because of the role of America. Therefore, unless the Russian Federation grinds Ukraine down and an eventual tipping point materializes, it seems that political elites in America will continue supporting Ukraine with vast economic and military funding.

EURACTIV (independent pan-European media network) reports (Jan 31, 2023), “Austria and Hungary agree on not sending weapons to Ukraine, Hungarian Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said at a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Klaudia Tanner in Budapest on Monday, with both sides stressing their close cooperation.”

Chancellor Karl Nehammer of Austria said, “Austria was neutral, Austria is neutral, Austria will remain neutral.”

It is still possible that “a tipping point” could happen concerning the depletion of the armed forces of Ukraine. However, this “tipping point” could take a very long time. Therefore, the death toll on both sides will continue to grow.

Hence with too many convulsions waiting to happen, it is in the interest of all vested parties to seek a way out of the crisis. For this to happen, the Russian Federation needs “honest European brokers – Austria and Hungary” – and for Ukraine to be supported by two pro-Ukrainian nations: and then all sides to focus on historical facts, facts on the ground (culture, ethnic, and ties of history) concerning the military conflict, and respective guarantees where both sides need to make compromises.

Naturally, the outcome will not please both sides because the issues involved are very complex. However, the alternative is a brain drain from Ukraine and the Russian Federation, enormous economic pressure on all sides involved in the conflict (including EU and G7 nations), vast numbers of soldiers dying (horrendously high already), mounting debt, the threat of the ongoing military conflict spilling over to other countries, and further divisions geopolitically (many Global South nations are tired of G7 and EU pressure).

A political solution needs to be found sooner or later. Accordingly, why wait for the deaths to mount and the possibility of the crisis to spiral to other countries?

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