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The Musk Peace Plan for Ukraine and Russia is both practical and sound
Peace is the prize.
There seems to be no end in sight to the Ukraine-Russia war, which is being fueled largely by global powers that are increasing the chances for spillover conflict. Concerns are mounting about the potential use of nuclear weapons, as the war continues with no end in sight. Additionally, the casualty count is soaring, resulting in a continuing humanitarian disaster among the Russian and Ukrainain peoples. With world governments pumping billions of dollars on a weekly basis into facilitating this perpetual conflict, it seems that it is past time to consider bringing the peacemakers to the table.
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On Monday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk decided to tweet a proposed outline for a plan that could result in the end of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine.
Unsurprisingly, it has ignited fury in the twittersphere, and throughout the global press, especially among the forces that seek the continuation of the war at all costs. Major figures like Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky weighed in and leveled serious accusations against Musk, who just months ago, donated tens of millions of dollars worth of Starlink satellite equipment to the Ukrainian government.
Beyond the major noise generated by the forces for never-ending warfare, however, is the reality that the Musk Peace Plan is both practical and sound.
We can break down the peace plan into three major items:
Crimea officially becomes Russian again
Independent referendum verification
Ukraine remains neutral (a buffer state between Russia and NATO)
Let’s start with Crimea.
Ukraine’s chances of retaking Crimea are slim to none. And even in the miraculous event that their forces secure the strategically important plot of land, they would be met by a civilian population that is completely hostile to Kiev rule.
An overwhelming majority of Crimeans want to be Russian, with over 19 out of 20 voting in the past referendum to be governed by Moscow. Independent surveys from the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Pew Research, Gallup, and others all came to a similar end result in their survey concerning the legitimacy of the referendum. The people of Crimea want nothing to do with the state of Ukraine. A successful Ukrainian effort to take back Crimea from Russia would not result in some kind of humanitarian victory, but just the opposite in the form of incredible human suffering.
It’s time to accept that Crimea, which was “gifted” to Ukraine (as part of a Soviet satellite network) six decades ago, is currently part of Russia, and should remain that way. And if we believe in the principle of self government, it’s always worth considering which government is preferred by the people who actually live in these territories.
Speaking of self government, this is a good time to transition to another part of the Musk peace plan labeled as contentious, which has sparked fury in the Ukraine absolutist camp.
Similar to the Crimea referendum, the results of the most recent referendums on the border region saw citizens voting overwhelmingly to become part of Russia.
As for his second leg of the peace plan, the SpaceX founder wants international observers (Musk proposes the U.N.) to run a separate referendum to assess the legitimacy of the elections.
This is the part of the Musk Peace Plan that upsets both the Russian side and the Ukrainian side of the debate. The Russians feel these local referendums were legitimate, and the Ukrainians don’t want to even entertain the idea of potentially losing more territory to independent elections.
This again goes back to the principle of self government, and defending what is best for the people who actually live in the region. Similar to the Crimea referendum, the results of the various border region referendums came as a shock to westerners who only consume western media sources. This bias is coupled by the consensus accusation among internationalist western governments that the votes were rigged in Russia’s favor.
So let’s find a handful of independent bodies, similar to the effort of the Crimea referendum post-analysis surveys, to go in and talk to these people. Sure, the United Nations might not be the best entity to get the job done, but the general idea of verifying a claimed consensus and bolstering self government is sound.
Third, Musk is proposing that Ukraine remain a neutral entity.
This should be understood as the least controversial aspect of the Musk Peace Plan, as it aligns with Ukraine’s history as a neutral entity that has elected both pro-Russia and pro-NATO politicians. Specifically, neutrality for Ukraine must mean that the country’s leaders cannot commit to joining international security alliances on either side of the geopolitical tug-of-war. Joining NATO or a proposed Russian bloc security alliance is a non-starter. In recent history, Ukraine has successfully operated as a buffer state between East and West, and that buffer has served to thwart the prospect of hostile major powers clashing on a major border.
Peace is not profitable, and certainly not the ideal result to the primary stakeholders involved in the Russia-Ukraine war, but it is for sure the preferable outcome for the rest of humanity. It’s time to seriously consider the Musk Peace Plan as a roadmap for stability in a region that desperately needs to turn down the temperature.