Protracted and intractable conflicts are highly escalated and involve repeated patterns of violence and they are usually referred to as inescapable conflicts but practically they can be dealt with effective conflict management strategies. The manner in which the conflict is managed can cause more tension in the situation rather than the conflict itself. Therefore, the intensity of impending conflict is determined by how conflict is handled. Effective conflict management involves the use of an assortment of styles dependent on the conditions of the conflict. Whereas ineffective conflict management produces more conflict and destructive effects overall.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has become one of its examples where both states have long indulged in the conflict, serving undefined interests, and leading to ultimate loss and chaos. But the destructive chain is the result of ineffective conflict management means in which states kept on avoiding the actual cause and its solution with their unassertive and uncooperative behavior. Ultimately many focus to complete one another, putting the stakes on each other unprecedented.
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What is the actual problem?
The recent confrontation between Russia and Ukraine is the result of behavioral negligence where states are more confined to competing and defeating each other, regardless of their own loss. Moreover, the West is trying to protect its own interests and hegemony over the larger hemisphere. With a three-day summit in Bavaria, southern Germany of the G7 conflation on the Russia-Ukraine war, the war destructions have become more impulsive.
Russia which was confronted back from the capital Kyiv and was under the agenda to focus on southern and eastern areas has been able to attack Kyiv along with control on last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the eastern Luhansk region, attempting to draw Minsk into the conflict, following missile strikes from Belarus on Ukrainian soil, the central city of Cherkasy, and the north-eastern Kharkiv region, strike on Starychi district in Lviv, a missile strike against Odessa.
Severodonetsk, a battleground city in the east, was captured by pro-Russian forces on Saturday after the Ukrainian military withdrew, claiming there was nothing left to defend in the destroyed city after months of intense combat. It was a significant setback for Kyiv as it fights to retain control of the Donbas area, which is made up of the two eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, and which Moscow insists Kyiv handover to separatists.
Along with that, food insecurity, energy crisis, infrastructure damage, and migrations have built huge pressure. Due to severe sanctions, Russia’s isolation has been worse since the invasion. where roughly over 4000 economic sanctions have been applied throughout the course of six rounds. The European Space Agency, Oracle, BMW, Apple, MAERSK, and Airbus are just a few of the multinational businesses that have made intentions to cease activities or investments in Russia. The largest Russian lender, Sberbank, withdrew from the EU market, and Russian banks were kicked out of the SWIFT system. The burden of the sanctions has resulted in catastrophic losses for Russia’s financial sector.
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Russian foreign exchange reserves totaling $609 billion have been reduced by 45% as a result of asset freezes by Western nations. Moreover, Ukraine has lost more than $500 billion in physical infrastructure since the war started, in addition to the loss of military equipment. 940 educational buildings, 230 healthcare facilities, and 195 manufacturing companies have all suffered damage, destruction, or seizure. Infrastructural losses incurred by residential buildings and roadways were over $60 billion, with 23,800 kilometers (14,788 miles) of highways being damaged or destroyed. Nearly $10 billion worth of corporate assets in Ukraine were damaged.
Hence the war is causing huge losses to both states without securing any of their interests. In fact, it is creating pressure around the world where states are interdependent on each other for their survival and sustainability in a globalized world. 10-14% of the world’s oil reserves are dependent on Russia and Europe is significantly reliant on Russian gas and oil, with 40% of its gas needs and25% of its oil needs, respectively, coming from Russia. Russia’s energy imports have not yet been totally prohibited by Europe. If so, the price per barrel might go from $200 to $250. A 10 percent gas shortage, according to some predictions, will result in a 0.7 percent contraction. Additionally, Europe must address the refugee crisis. The decline of the European economy will cause social upheaval. And importantly being a part of this war, Europe needs to take significant measures to curb the unfolding destruction.
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Therefore, this war has been a complete loss to each party and there seems to be further destruction and emergency in the future if no effective conflict management would be applied. According to Thomas and Kilmann’s model of instruction, conflict can be handled through various means. Avoiding and competing can be observed for a long time in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Hence effective conflict management strategies need to be taken to control the destruction and repeated patterns of violence.
The way forward
Compromising can be an effective measure to find common grounds in which individuals realize that every party cannot be entirely satisfied in every conflict situation, therefore, parties accept that there are times when one must be ready to set common grounds. Ukraine needs to realize that being part of NATO would never be acceptable for Russia, which has a long claim over Ukraine. And Russia also needs to realize that Ukraine as a state has some necessities for survival and its power could not be thoroughly controlled by Russia which also has its economy and sustainability at stake with this war.
Subsequently, a collaborating mode can be applied if states manage conflict constructively and find common grounds. Both find a solution that satisfies both parties and efforts would be made to actively pursue effective problem-solving actions in order that all parties can accomplish equally satisfying results. Regardless of the point that states will never give up on their positions, therefore innovative ideas need to be brought to build trust and communications to fulfill the needs of both parties.
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Being a protracted conflict, a high focus on the agenda and the relationship must be brought. As both states are not willing to give up their position which needs to be addressed innovatively to fulfill their interests and make them realize that only through common ground their interests can be attained, otherwise destruction is the only gain they can attain.
The writer is a Student of Mphil IR at Quaid e Azam University. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.