Brussels, London (6/6 – 60)
Indonesian Minister of Defense and 2024 presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto delivered a peace plan for the Russia-Ukraine war at the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is being held for the twentieth time this year. The 2023 event took place in Singapore on 2–4 June.
It was attended by defense ministers of the Asia-Pacific region and associated officials, as well as high-level delegations from the European Union and international organizations, invited to observe. The article “Singapore hosts key Asia defense summit with eye on Ukraine” details the essence of the meeting.
The proposal was severely criticized and rejected by Kyiv. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko stated that Prabowo’s proposal “sounds like a Russian plan and not an Indonesian plan”.
Critics of Prabowo Subianto’s peace proposal pointed out his pro-Russian stance, raising eyebrows on the judgment of the aging Defence Minister if elected President of Indonesia, potentially creating a strategic counterbalance to China and Russia.
Note that the Russian Federation is not participating in the Forum, for the second consecutive year, after organizers withdrew its invitation to Russia on the eve of the 2022 summit. This year no invitation was sent to the Russians.
Minister Prabowo called on defense and military officials from around the world, gathered at the Shangri-La Dialogue defense meeting in Singapore, to issue a declaration calling for a cessation of hostilities. Prabowo proposed a multi-point plan, initiated by a ceasefire and followed by a demilitarized zone to be agreed by all belligerents, initially withdrawing 15 kilometers (nearly 10 miles) from each side’s forward position.
The newly-demilitarized zone would be staffed and monitored by a peacekeeping force deployed by the UN, he said, adding that a UN referendum should be held “to ascertain objectively the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants of the various disputed areas”.
The proposal by Indonesian Minister of Defense and 2024 presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto was severely criticized and rejected by Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko stated that Prabowo’s proposal “sounds like a Russian plan”.
Indonesia’s proposal followed President Joko Widodo’s visit last year to Moscow and Kyiv, where he offered to play broker between the leaders and rekindle peace talks. The Indonesian President was serving as Chairman of the G20 group of major economies at the time.
Nikolenko dismissed the plan, reiterating Kyiv’s position that Russia should withdraw all troops from Ukraine. Nikolenko said Russia had committed an act of aggression, occupying Ukrainian territory, and any proposal for a ceasefire would allow it to regroup and reinforce its military units.
“There are no disputed territories between Ukraine and the Russian Federation to hold referendums there,” he said. “In the occupied territories, the Russian army commits war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Russia is now trying in every possible way to disrupt the Ukrainian counteroffensive.” However, Russia continues to deny Ukrainian accusations of war crimes and genocide.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has proposed a 10-point peace plan, one which calls on Russia to withdraw all its troops from Ukraine. Nikolenko urged Indonesia to support Zelensky’s peace plan.
However, a Western diplomat (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) commented “The occupation of Ukrainian territories is comparable to China occupying Sulawesi and then arguing the Indonesian army should withdraw 15 kilometers on its own territory. An absurdity and non-starter.”
On a separate occasion, when speaking in Helsinki, Finland, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin is a case study in failure. He intimates that Russia’s current situation is in fact much worse than even before the initial invasion.
He hopes that Ukraine will become stronger and will be able to resist and defend its territory against Russian aggression. Unlike Prabowo, Blinken perceives a “ceasefire” as advantageous to Russia.
Nevertheless, the United States of America welcomes any initiatives that will help bring Putin to the negotiating table, to engage in meaningful diplomacy. However, negotiations will only be pursued if the mutual agreement is to ensure the entire territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“We will support any effort – whether by Brazil, China or other countries – if they help find a way towards a fair and lasting peace in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter,” he said.