Commentary: Four questions to ask when considering peace in Ukraine

And so we may need to add a final question to that list, perhaps the most significant of all: Even if an agreement can be hammered out over Ukraine, will the precedents and perverse incentives it creates be tolerable?

AVOIDING SOMETHING WORSE

None of this is easy. Compromise, co-operation and peace are, in the end, much harder than war.

And there are certainly still many with hawkish views on why Putin must be stopped and his veiled nuclear threats ignored.

But beyond Russia now being considered a significant and direct threat to the security, peace and stability of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, the wider global context cannot be ignored, either.

In 2021, world military expenditure surpassed US$2 trillion for the first time – 12 per cent more than in 2012. Nuclear arsenals are expanding and upgrading, as are emerging and largely unregulated military technologies in space, cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems.

Ongoing tensions between China and the West, America, Israel and Iran, and webs of new military alliances (some visible, some opaque) on all sides, all contribute to a world that is becoming less peaceful according to the latest Global Peace Index.

Add to this the real threats to stability from climate change, a global food crisis, stretched supply chains and inflation, and the risk of Ukraine sparking or exacerbating something worse should be clear. Peace on the right terms must be the priority.

Alexander Gillespie is Professor of Law at the University of Waikato. This commentary first appeared in The Conversation.