The solution for peace in Ukraine

The process involves incentives for China and leverage on Mr. Putin.


(Creative Commons) via Reuters

Volodimir Zelenskyy visiting Eastern Ukraine in Spring of 2021. Picture by Simon Shuster.

Jacob Gekht, Staff Writer

Unless Putin is ousted from his entrenched position of power in Russia, military conflict and violence in Ukraine and its surroundings will most likely continue. There are, however, several ways to de-escalate the conflict and maybe even end it. In many instances, they require deals and incentives with controversial figures and governments.

Having been isolated by a barrage of sanctions and political boycotts, Russia now heavily relies on China for their political and economic power. In fact, because of the initial invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, Russia has forged a close economic partnership with China, which has encouraged trade to balloon by 35.9% last year to a value of $146.9 billion. It is clear that both countries, alienated by the West and their allies, need each other for food, technology, and energy exports. Most importantly, as the international community has almost banned trade in Russian Roubles, China is now the only connection to the foreign currency markets for Russia. If China allows its Yen to be exchanged with the Rouble to continue trade, Russia will continue to have access to foreign markets. While many countries and their private companies have left and stopped service to Russia, it will not be enough to stop Putin from spending government money solely for the government’s benefit. 

China is undoubtedly in a position to either prop or end Putin’s criminal regime. While the country has vast reserves of foreign currency, public support for the war might wane if ordinary Russians see their bank accounts drain under the weight of foreign sanctions. Currently, protest gatherings have been in full swing around Russia, despite government crackdowns on nonviolent protesters. A potential path to de-escalation is one where China places sanctions on Russia, and stops supporting the regime on the international stage, in this case the UN.

With the Chinese government blaming the cause of the conflict on the United States, it is clear that they have chosen a side. If a deal is made, even if it is unfair to China’s neighbors or “unethical”, the second China cuts Russia off , the country will go into further ruin, and Vladimir Putin will be forced to concede the war, as the vital political and economic support would be gone. 

Another solution would be to take away the wealth of the significantly powerful Russian elite. As the large state run companies of the USSR became privatized, Putin and his inner circle of friends, family, and colleagues became strangely wealthy, in fact, the wealthiest people in Russia and among the wealthiest in the world. In 2012, critics claimed that Putin’s net net-worth had been estimated at $70 billion dollars, as well as in 2020, when a now imprisoned opposition leader released a detailed documentary on Putin’s secluded 350 million dollar palace on the Black Sea. 

It is clear that Putin has immeasurable wealth, and he also has 2 known children as well as another rumored daughter. If the West and its allies were to find Putin’s riches in the form of companies and bank accounts owned by his cronies and members of his inner circle, it would cripple his ability to not only support his family’s lavish lifestyle, but also not be able to support his family abroad. If the financial governing bodies of the world were able to track down such riches, hidden in the complicated ownership schemes of his inner circle, the West could finally have true leverage on Mr. Putin. With such leverage, and a serious deal to not meddle and invade sovereign countries, the West could be able to neutralize Putin. 

To sustain the temporary survival of Volodimir Zelenskyy’s democratically elected government in Ukraine, the United States and its allies need to continue sending aid to Ukraine in the form of weapons, ammunition, money, and intelligence. Such deals would be difficult to achieve, and could take very long. These deals I’ve just laid out could be the key to stopping the rising death tolls. For now, as the war escalates and civilian casualties mount, the world cannot stop putting pressure on the Russian Government. The allied democracies of the west have time and time again come to the aid of nations fighting tyranny, and with these solutions they can live up to their mission.