THE WEST CANNOT AFFORD TO ALLOW RUSSIA TO WIN ITS WAR AGAINST UKRAINE
The West must stop lying to itself. Moscow is fighting to win, not just to fight. Kyiv is doing the same. Either we want Ukraine to win, or we don’t. If we do, then we must get our act together immediately.
Politicians on both sides of the pond continue obstructing aid to Ukraine. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbàn, the Kremlin’s Trojan horse in Europe, has repeatedly blocked the European Union (EU) from sending financial assistance to Kyiv. Likewise, Republicans resort to every excuse in the book to block the White House from sending military aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Teams of lawyers and finance professionals based in EU member states like Cyprus have helped Russia avoid sanctions. Moscow has also circumvented export controls by using third countries such as Armenia and Kyrgyzstan as entry points for sanctioned goods and materials.
The Kremlin has found ways to process international financial transactions and facilitate the trade of sanctioned goods. Meanwhile, Russia’s shadow fleet, whose size grows with oil tankers sold by Greece’s shipping oligarchs, sells most of its seaborne crude for more than the $60 price cap imposed by the G7 and EU.
The EU, with a population of nearly 450 million and a $21 trillion-dollar economy, has failed to deliver on its promise to provide Ukraine with one million artillery rounds. Not only has South Korea provided more ammunition to Ukraine than the EU, but famished and impoverished North Korea has transferred one million shells to Russia.
Even worse, nearly 10 years into the war, and almost 22 months since Russia’s full-scale invasion, western companies continue helping Moscow manufacture weapons. For example: many of the critical components for Russia’s Kalibr long-range cruise missiles that rain death on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure are made with parts produced in and provided by the West.
The list of failures goes on and on. Whether these mistakes are made by the West to satisfy private western interests or as a means to appease Russia makes no difference on the battlefield: Putin thanks them all the same for their thoughtful contributions to his war effort.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is not only about Ukrainian sovereignty and self-determination. Putin’s mission is to destroy the rules-based international system that underwrites the West’s security and prosperity. He intends to replace it with a chaotic world order where the strong do as they please and the weak suffer what they must.
The West is an economic powerhouse while hostile states like Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba are comparatively poor. Nevertheless, Moscow’s allies are meeting their commitments to the Kremlin while isolationists and populists act like the West is cash-strapped and incapable of sustaining its support for Ukraine.
The global balance of power, which favors the West, is unlikely to last forever – especially if we continue appeasing evil.
The best time to confront the enemies of the Free World was yesterday. The next best moment to stand up for the rules-based international order is today, in Ukraine, by providing the Ukrainian Armed Forces with what they need to defeat Russia. Otherwise, more warmongers like Putin will be emboldened, the number of global crises will multiply, and the West will have to fight wars it doesn’t want to fight tomorrow.
If Russia succeeds against Ukraine, the best-case scenario for Europe would be the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, and Finland requesting that NATO deploy reinforcements to their eastern borders. The worst-case scenario would be NATO finally fighting the war it was created for against Russia.
Responding to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine with weakness will only embolden China to invade Taiwan. In fact, there are few conceivable ways for the Peoples' Liberation Army to begin that operation without launching preemptive strikes on U.S. forces at Okinawa. Thus, dragging Washington and Tokyo into a war over the island’s fate.
The cost of defeating evil always increases over time. The West could’ve imposed crushing sanctions on Russia in 2008, when it invaded Georgia. Instead, we rewarded Moscow with Nord Stream 1 and the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Rather than fast-tracking Ukraine’s NATO membership and prioritizing its EU candidacy after the Russian invasion of Georgia, the West made excuses and responded to Russia’s aggression with weakness. This culminated in the first invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Ukrainian Crimea in 2014.
The West could’ve crippled Russia’s economy and turned Ukraine into a porcupine after 2014. Instead, Moscow was awarded with Nord Stream 2 and the 2018 World Cup. The West also agreed to the Minsk agreements, which set the stage for the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
The West could’ve prevented this war a decade and a half ago. We failed repeatedly. Ukraine suffered the consequences.
Yet we still don’t need to send our sons and daughters to die in the trenches of Donbas. The West need only give the Ukrainian Armed Forces the material advantage required to reach the Sea of Azov, sever the land bridge to Crimea, and make holding the peninsula untenable for Russia.
Moscow’s war against Kyiv turns 10 years old in 2024. Ukrainians will continue fighting against the Russian invaders, with or without us. If the West wants to preserve what it can of the rules-based international order and reduce the likelihood of fighting two wars in separate theatres, it must get its act together immediately and help Ukraine win.
Originally published by National Post on December 20, 2023.