Why Has the West Blocked Peace Efforts to End Ukraine Crisis?

Peace efforts must be taken seriously by all sides at the earliest possible time.

History may not repeat itself but often there are echoes of the past. Patterns in interstate relations develop as power shifts through the centuries. Confrontations can be avoided through diplomacy or may lead to war. When diplomacy is blocked war can follow. Peace diplomacy is urgent today given the war in Ukraine.

China just registered a stunning diplomatic success by bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia together to reset their relations after years fraught with tensions. Beijing’s historic success brings the hope that China’s peace diplomacy will gain momentum in these challenging times.

Imperialism and war

Today the world is confronted by a tragic war in Eastern Europe that could explode across the Continent and even lead to a nuclear World War III. In addition to that terrible prospect, war against China using the pretext of Taiwan island is increasingly discussed in the corridors of power in Washington.

Looking back in history for patterns, we see that European imperial rivalries in the 19th century led to the Crimean War (1853-1856) in which the United Kingdom and France fought against Russia. This war was just one instance of the power struggle pitting for over a century the British Empire against Russia in Eurasia. This century long power struggle, from 1804 to 1907, was called the “Great Game”.

A man walks past damaged buildings in Mariupol, Jan. 27, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)

It is not surprising that today the US-UK-NATO proxy war against Russia involves the Ukraine. In fact, it is consistent with the geopolitical concepts of British geopolitical expert Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947). He put forward a theory about a Eurasian “heartland” and “rimland”. The basic concept sought to contain Russia (and China) in order to enhance the global strategic position of the British Empire.

United States and NATO policy today echoes the geopolitical concepts of the Kaiser’s Germany and Hitler’s Reich for an eastward march against Russia. Ukraine today is part of NATO’s “lebensraum”, or living space, just as it was for the Nazi regime.

Just as World War I could have been prevented through diplomacy, the tragic war in Ukraine could have been prevented through diplomacy. But after the start of hostilities in Ukraine in 2014, peace initiatives by the Vatican, by Türkiye, and by China have been blocked by the West thereby intentionally prolonging the war.

WWI peace initiatives blocked

Looking back on World War I, we see the pattern of blocked peace initiatives. Why did the Entente powers in World War I, led by the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, seek to prolong that horrific war in the face of several peace initiatives 1916-1918? Who blocked the peace initiatives?

There were several well-known peace initiatives in World War I. All were blocked by Entente politicians. The reason they were blocked was that a key war objective of the Entente powers was to bring down the “autocratic” Austro-Hungarian Empire and to dismember it. This would force Germany to end the war and would change the map of Europe creating new “democracies” as defined by the victors.

Just as today in the Ukraine war, the Vatican in World War I did its utmost to stop the war and to promote peace.

After the war started on July 28, 1914, few weeks later Pope Pious X died on August 20th. The next pope, Benedict XV, was experienced in diplomacy and strove for the next four years to bring peace. But it was to no avail.

Ukrainian soldiers patrol in Donbass on Apr. 11, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)

In November 1914, Benedict published the first of his 12 encyclicals, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum. The greatest and wealthiest nations, he said, were “well-provided with the most awful weapons modern military science has devised, and they strive to destroy one another with refinements of horror.”

He went on: “There is no limit to the measure of ruin and of slaughter; day by day the earth is drenched with newly shed blood and is covered with the bodies of the wounded and of the slain.”

Pope Benedict XV’s four years of effort to save humanity were blocked by the Entente powers and thus failed. The effort failed, as noted earlier, because the Entente alliances’ strategic war objective was to bring down the Catholic Habsburg Dynasty, to break up the Austro-Hungarian Empire geographically and to do the same to the German Empire its dynasty and its lands.

Today, Pope Francis has offered to help in the effort to seek peace in Ukraine. He has offered the good offices of the Vatican for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. But, so far, the West has criticized Pope Francis for his effort. Why? The stated goals of Washington and NATO are to bring down the Russian government and to “weaken”, even dismember, Russia.

Among several others, there was an important Austrian initiative 1916-1917.

During World War I, the critical Austrian peace initiative of 1916-1917, led by the Austrian Emperor Karl’s brother-in-law Prince Sixtus, was intentionally blocked. So, the war continued for two more bloody years.

The Entente powers wanted the war to be prolonged for political and strategic reasons. The British and French, in particular, sought to create a “new Europe” and new map of Europe by bringing down “autocracies” and replacing them with “democracies”.

The influential Czech politician Tomas Masaryk said that “A longer war would give us more time for propaganda.” By that he meant propaganda for collapsing and dismembering the Austro-Hungarian Empire so as to create Czechoslovakia from the ruins.

Masaryk also revealed that, when he was in London in October 1915, “I learned my first lesson: the dismemberment of the Hapsburg Empire appeared to be the principal objective of the war.”

More echoes today of World War I.

This photo taken on Jan. 20, 2023 shows the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States.(Photo/Xinhua)

Peace initiatives today blocked by the West

During World War I, U.S. President Wilson framed U.S. participation in the war as “a war to make the world safe for democracy”. This echoed the “Democracy versus Autocracy” WWI propaganda slogan used by French politicians.

Today, we hear echoes of the same WWI propaganda from President Joe Biden and his administration. Recycled slogans are directed against Russia, as well as against China, and both are labeled “autocracies” by Washington. Just as in World War I, Washington today supports a policy of separatism although this time directed against China targeting Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Plans to carve up and dismember Russia are actively discussed in U.S. think tanks and in official circles.

The late Zbigniew Brzezinski called for dismemberment of Russia in his book “The Grand Chessboard”. He also called for “Color Revolutions”, meaning regime change, in the Ukraine and in Georgia. Brzezinski’s book was published in 1997 the same year his protégé Madeleine Albright became U.S. Secretary of State. For a quarter century, his geopolitical and foreign policy concepts have found wide acceptance in the State Department not to mention in the Central Intelligence Agency.

The West has blocked all peace initiatives to end the Ukraine war so as to prolong the war with the intention to collapse and dismember Russia. The West has blocked the peace initiatives of the Vatican, Türkiye, and China. Germany and France blocked the 2015 Minsk 2 process and that set the stage for the war in 2022 by allowing the U.S. and NATO to build up Ukraine’s military power into a formidable proxy war machine. The U.S. and NATO rejected Russia’s peace initiative in December 2021. Britain blocked Türkiye’s initiative. The U.S. has blocked China’s recent peace initiative.

Clearly, it is urgent that diplomacy be unblocked and that a ceasefire and negotiation process be undertaken. The Vatican’s proposal for their good offices for talks is viable, as are the efforts of Türkiye and China. Peace efforts must be taken seriously by all sides at the earliest possible time.


The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.