The prophets of doom already have predicted a nuclear Armageddon of Biblical proportions as the world descends into global war over Ukraine, but I am not one of those so-called ‘prophets’ who maintain that the crisis in the Ukraine can only be resolved through military action.
What is needed is not the endless round of shuttle diplomacy as the various world leaders or their representatives fly in and fly out of Moscow in a ‘Munich agreement-style’ approach to persuade Russian president Vladimir Putin not to bomb the living daylights out of the former Soviet Union republic of Ukraine.
In this respect, the only man for the job is former US President Donald Trump, who during his Presidency kept the United States out of any war. Whilst his domestic policy was surrounded in controversy, his massive achievement in foreign policy was the hugely successful Singapore Summit in 2018 which cools the crisis in the Korean peninsula involving North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
North Korea, since it became a nuclear power, always gave the impression it was looking for a fight with the Western democratic powers. What was building towards a global crisis, was cooled by Trump’s negotiating skills, culminating in the photograph of the famous handshake between The Donald and Kim - just as famous as the handshake in the development of the Irish peace process between the late Derry IRA commander and former Stormont deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the Queen.
The West seems to be totally underestimating the desire of Putin to rebuild the Russian Empire. Putin is no Boris Yeltsin, a former Russian leader whom the West could push around. Similarly, Putin - in spite of his Soviet past - is no Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the former USSR before the collapse of communism.
Putin is more like the character of the Soviet Union’s tough talking ruler from the Seventies - Leonid Brezhnev. In policy, Putin reminds me of the last Tsar of Russia - Nicholas II - and his imperialist policy towards Germany in 1914 which took Russia into the disastrous Great War, which ultimately cost him his crown in the 1917 Russian revolution.
Looking at Putin’s desire to rebuild the Russian Empire, this President of Russia is the new Tsar. The Donald can bring a calming influence to the crisis as he doesn’t have the pressures of the Oval Office, or have to worry about what Congress or the House of Representatives will think.
Had Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu still been alive, I would have been recommending him to chair any round-table peace summit.
Why Dublin? The Republic of Ireland has always maintained its neutrality and one of the main problems facing the organisers and chair of any peace summit to resolve the Ukraine crisis is a suitable venue.
So what better place for all the participants to meet than the grand setting of Leinster House, the home of the Dail.
Chaired by The Donald, the Dublin Summit would involve US President Joe Biden, European Union leaders, the Ukrainian government, and Putin. Then again, the difficulty could be in persuading Biden to attend as he would interpret Trump’s chairing the Dublin Summit as another link in the political chain leading to The Donald returning to the Oval Office in 2024.
The problem for the UK is that whilst it is no longer a member of the EU, four existing EU member states - Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia border the Ukraine. And it must not be forgotten these four EU members states were once integral territorial parts of the old USSR.
If Russia invades - depending in what counts as an invasion - it will inevitably mean a refugee crisis as civilians flee the fighting as Putin seeks to rebuild his Russian Empire. Initially, this could mean refugees wanting to flee to the safety of the UK.
Threats of economic sanctions against Russia by the EU, UK or the USA will not frighten Putin if we take Russian policy towards the former Soviet territory of the Chechen republic. Just as the leadership of the rebels in Chechnya what happened when they tried to militarily claim independence from Moscow!
It will also put a strain on NATO - of which the UK is a member, especially if any fighting was to spill over into EU states. There is some talk the Ukraine might not want a relationship with NATO in return for a ‘no strike’ agreement with Putin.
A number of key issues need to be addressed:
1, How severe will Putin’s military action be - taunting flyovers by Russian aircraft, huge military exercises along the Ukrainian border, but no actual Russian boots on Ukrainian soil, a hit and run incursion attack, or a full-scale invasion along the lines of the Coalition’s attack on Iraq?
2, If Putin takes over the Ukraine by military force, which state is next? Could he actually sabre rattle so much that existing EU states feel the need to leave the EU and rejoin a Russian Empire, or be neutral in terms of NATO?
3, What does it mean for energy costs in the UK if a lot of gas comes via Russia?
4, What would be the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol if the EU - which does not multi-task politically - could we actually see a situation that the Protocol slips down the league of priorities because the EU becomes obsessed with dealing with the military action in Ukraine?
5, Could a situation deteriorate so deeply that we actually see conflict between NATO forces and Russian forces? This would involve UK troops as a part of NATO - put bluntly, British boots on Ukrainian soil.
Perhaps the real worry in this crisis is not what Putin plans, but what the reaction of Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be. Could Putin be goading both premiers into military action as both Biden and Johnson could use any Ukrainian conflict as an excuse to deflect attention from domestic woes.
In Biden’s case, it would be a chance for him to shake off the perception that he is merely ‘Sleepy Joe’. Sending American forces into Ukraine would prove he is a President who can not just talk tough, but act tough - especially as he was the President in the Oval Office when American forces left Afghanistan, leaving the country to be ruled by the fanatics of the Taliban.
What did all those American personnel die or be wounded for simply for America to have the humiliation of a second Vietnam war-style evacuation in less than a century?
As for Boris Johnson, given the ‘Partygate’ scandals, issues of Tory sleaze, and the damning Sue Gray report, put crudely, there’s nothing like a war to take the public and media’s attention over a crisis at home!
Unlike Saddam Hussein in the Iraq War, Putin does possess weapons of mass destruction. However, with cool heads, diplomacy can still be the big winner in the Ukrainian crisis.
Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.