|Pix Source Al Jazeera|
Anniversaries are usually celebrated with rituals of gift giving; along with moments of performances of sentimental musings, and the performances of those family members and friends notorious for self-destructive behaviors are projected out. This 1st anniversary of the second offensive in the Russo-Ukrainian War (actually close to the 9th anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian war which commenced with the 1st purported Partition of Ukraine in 2014) is no different.
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The United States and its allies gifted Ukraine much by way of moral support, assurances, and lots of military and humanitarian goods and services. That family of course included those eager to participate in the anniversary (the US and the EU's Eastern flank) and those who still have many many many issues to resolve but who can't help sharing them in sometimes clumsy and self destructive ways (the EU's Western flank and elements of the political left and right who either see Russia through backwards looking time tunnel or think themselves able to convert their own empire into some sort of self sustaining self-referencing bunker). But the bigger gift--the United States is returning Ukraine to Europe--whether the ancient European elites who still insert themselves in and through the vast spaces of a once mightier construct like it or not.
The Russians, in an act of self love, gifted themselves an even greater loosening of formal communal restraints (eg self-restraining nuclear treaties) and performed a commitment ceremony of sorts rededicating the nation (or at least its leaders) to the task of the total consumption of Ukraine. They have also gifted themselves greater solidarity with like minded states on the same level of global dominance--Iran, for example--and cultvated smaller states in key areas, or at least influential personalities there--Nicaragua and the ALBA region, Berlusconi and his crowd, and the gentleman who holds high office in Hungary. Self-gifting, then, can be as pleasurable for the core of Russian state leadership as pleasuring others. And yet there was a gift to Ukraine as well--the gift of nationality, now forged in blood. More than anything else the events since 2014 has done more than anything to forge a modern Ukrainian nation-state.
Criminality is a gift that is paid back many fold. That was the gift that Ukraine gave to Russia to mark this anniversary--the gift of knowing that Russians who perpetrated criminal acts will be punished in this world or in the next.
Almost everyone has at least one contact in their phone who will never pick up the phone again. . . We will not erase their names from the phone or from our own memory. We will never forget them. We will never forgive that. We will never rest until the Russian murderers face deserved punishment. The punishment of the International Tribunal. The judgment of God. Of our warriors. Or all of them together. (Zelenskyy Speech 24 February 2023); and here)
And in the process Ukraine has gifted the world a clearer structure not just for identfying but for preparing cases for trials--joining together state elements, civilians, and a broad spectrum of civil society.
Now the Chinese have delivered their gift as well. In the form of the 关于政治解决乌克兰危机的中国立场 ["China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis" uploaded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs foreign language website and available in the original Chinese. This ast is especially interesting. It serves as a concrete application of Chinese efforts to reboot a new operating system as the means for running international law and relations "software." (discussed here:Attacking From the Flanks--One Can Attain Victory By Rebooting the Operating Systems of the International Order!: China's "The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper" [全球安全倡议概念文件]). More than anything else, this new OS would hard wire the structures of post-global empire onto the operational style of international institutions, re-framing their objectives and their relations to states--formally equal, but functionally differentiated in accordance with their power-rank. It represents a critical application of the theoretical foundations of Chinese internationalism applied to a difficult problem of managing national dependencies within a post-global order but in ways that do not threaten an oppositional equal with a set of their own first and second tier dependencies to manage and protect. Gone is the operational language of the 19th-20th centuries and the ugliness of territorial partition and criminality; in its place a security driven international order in which security binaries are embedded in more complicated systems of vertically tiered dependencies. Within this framework sovereignty is re-invented, and fractured, and inter-governmentality is centered within the structures of the international order--the place where equals and their dependents may meet to facilitate workable relations. None of this is inherently bad, but it does work to enhance the Chinese position in the world, at least as to its form and the timing of its release.
Mr. Zelenskyy remains sensitive to Chinese overtures. There are a number of possible reasons. Two he has made clear. The first is to attempt to align any Chinese peace plan structure with those of his own 10 Point Peace Plan announced November 2022. There are a number of places where the two plans overlap.
"The plan calls for: (1) Radiation and nuclear safety, focusing on restoring safety around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, which is now-Russian occupied; (2) Food security, including protecting and ensuring Ukraine’s grain exports to the world’s poorest nations; (3) 3. Energy security, with focus on price restrictions on Russian energy resources, as well as aiding Ukraine with restoring its power infrastructure, half of which has been damaged by Russian attacks; (4) Release of all prisoners and deportees, including war prisoners and children deported to Russia; (5) 5. Restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Russia reaffirming it according to the UN Charter, which Zelenskyy said is “not up to negotiations”; (6) Withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia; (7) Justice, including the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes; (8) Prevention of ecocide, need for protection of environment, with focus on de-mining and restoring water treatment facilities; (9) Prevention of escalation of conflict, and building security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space, including guarantees for Ukraine.; and (10) Confirmation of the war’s end, including a document signed by the involved parties." (Explainer: What is Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan?)
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Both the official English translation and the original Chinese versions of the 12 point plan follow below, along with a brief effort to decode it embedded (in red) after each of the twelve points of the peace plan. The issue is not whether the plan is good or bad, but rather the extent to which it may advance Chinese interests and their vision for the recasting of the international order and their place within it.