Are you tired of war in Ukraine?

Foreign Affairs

Western nations are trying to get beyond the early wartime positions they have, without looking for an end to war.

E.U. Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice President Josep Borrell (front), and his team on July 18, 2022, in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The recent departure of grain-laden ships from the port of Ukraine could be taken as a sign that people who believed it impossible for Russia and Ukraine to reach a deal were wrong. There have not been any diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, except for a short meeting between U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Takyip Erdogan.

Instead, the U.S. continues to discourage negotiations. Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s Prime Minister, told Zelensky .not to negotiate with Russia HTML1. In his dying days as prime minister, he repeated that call on August 24, saying that now was not the time to promote a “flimsy plan for negotiation” with Russia.

An August 22 article in the Financial Times leads with the misleading headline, “Russia rules out peace deal to end Ukraine war.” But the Russian representative to the U.N. said, not that Russia was ruling out negotiations, but that negotiations had been ruled out by an absence of diplomacy in the West. Gennady Gatilov stated that “we do not have contact with western delegations.” Gatilov said that “Unfortunately we do not communicate with each other.” This is because the U.N. became “politicized.” He was not denying there were possibilities for peace negotiations. Gatilov was not expressing his regret at the decision to exclude them, but he complained that the U.N. “should be playing an even bigger role in efforts to end conflict .”

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.”

Gatilov blamed the West, charging the U.S. and its NATO allies with pressuring Ukraine to abandon negotiations–a charge that echoes Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s complaint that positive talks in Istanbul were stymied because “following the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting, it was the impression that…there are those within the NATO member states that want the war to continue.”

Although it appears that world leaders don’t want to end war, some evidence suggests the world has grown weary.

According to data collected by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, shipments of military aid to Ukraine from European countries have been trending down since April. The six biggest European countries did not make any new military commitments in July for the first time since war began. This data also includes arms shipments coming from France, Germany and Spain. The Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker reported that “the flow of new international support for Ukraine has dried up in July. No major EU country, such as Germany, France, or Italy has given significant new pledges

But while Europe is reducing its arms exports to Ukraine, it has been increasing trade with Russia. Russia has not lost much oil exports to the U.S. sanctions, it is no secret. China’s and India’s increases in Russian oil imports alone have balanced losses to Western sanctions. China has increased imports of Russian oil by 55 percent, and Russia is now the second largest exporter of oil to India. Even Saudi Arabia has more than doubled its imports of Russian oil, while Russian oil now accounts for almost half of Turkey’s energy requirements.

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A better secret is that Russia’s arms exports are declining to the countries which are also increasing exports of goods to Russia. According to analysis of the 39 countries that accounted for 72 percent of Russian imports prior to the war, as the sanctions kicked in, exports to Russia dropped by 57 percent. Exports of goods began trending upwards in April, the same month that arms exports were declining. By June, exports were nearly back to pre-war levels, climbing back up by 47 percent. Here’s the deal: Most of Russia’s increase in exports was due to European countries who have signed sanctions.

This trade trend continues. Chinese exports to Russia in July went up by 35 percent over June, lifting them above pre-war levels. Turkey is exporting more to Russia–40 percent more–than before the war.

And Turkey is doing more than sending goods to Russia, strengthening bonds not only in trade but even in tourism. Erdogan and Putin met this month and agreed to strengthen energy and economic ties. Russia currently assists Turkey in building its first nuclear power station.

The world is tired of its military and commercial commitments. But diplomacy also shows it. The tide has turned from a steady stream after the U.N. condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The momentum of Western diplomats pushing back against Russia has waned.

It isn’t just that it has been harder to find ways to punish Russia, as Richard Gowan (UN director, independent International Crisis Group) stated. It is also that “Western countries are shying away from some specific moves, fearing tepid support,” as Reuters recently reported. According to diplomats and observers, recent moves show “rising voter abstentions” as well as “growing indifference to public opposition to Moscow.”

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In June, the E.U. The E.U. had considered naming an U.N. specialist to investigate Russian human rights violations, but it was abandoned due to concerns about the opposition of nearly half the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Even April’s successful General Assembly vote to kick Russia out of the Human Rights Council saw 47 percent of voting countries either vote against the motion or abstain. With some countries not voting, only 48 percent of all member countries voted for the motion against Russia.

A top Asian diplomat said to Reuters that there is “no appetite to further action unless the red lines have been crossed”. Another diplomat from Africa expressed disappointment that the West is supplying weapons to Ukraine, but not negotiating an end to the conflict.

The West may not be trying to end the war but might become more tired of it.

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