The war in Europe is in its third week. Although the final outcome is not yet clear, a new reality is beginning to emerge. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has ushered in a new post-Cold War era and brought back the ghost of Nazism on the European continent. This is the time to showcase our combined intelligence and determination to consolidate around Europe’s liberal democratic heritage, increase its military capabilities and fight for them, and fight totalitarianism.
After months of waiting and debate over Vladimir Putin’s true intentions, his massive military attack on Ukraine reveals that Putin’s goal was to overthrow the Ukrainian government and neutralize the sovereign Eastern European country’s ability to defend itself through multiple high-profile air defense operations.
In the days that followed, Russian troops advanced rapidly from Crimea in the south, which Russia illegally occupied in 2014, and from the north to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and several cities in the east. However, the Russian offensive cooled off after Ukraine’s military and armed civilian groups ran into strong resistance.
Since then the cities of Ukraine have been besieged using the tactics of the invaders Heavy weapons, to exhaust the guards and to terrorize the local unarmed fighters. Hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians have died as a result. By doing so, the Russians are trying to send a message to other Ukrainian cities – surrender or face the same fate. This is a page from the same playbook of bloody indiscriminate bombings and civilian shootings that Putin has used over the past 25 years to try to defeat both Chechnya and Syria – both of which have killed and injured thousands.
Since Putin was dishonest about his intentions to start the war, he is now spreading new and more foreign lies that the attack is going according to plan. It is unbelievable that his plan was to stumble upon a geographically large country of more than 40 million people with hundreds of military vehicles and an estimated 7,000 troops (more than what the Americans lost in 20 years of fighting in both Afghanistan and Iraq) – including five top commanders. In the first three weeks of the war.
Instead of the expected blitzkrieg, his troops could turn into a long-term waterlogged war without any clear sustainable purpose. Meanwhile, internally, Putin has to deal with the extremely negative consequences of his war, including the new crippling sanctions imposed on Russian society and the country’s economy.
Despite heroic efforts and the bravery of Ukrainian troops and its civilian national resistance, Russian forces are slowly advancing their offensive. The Russians have had some limited success in capturing areas around the Black Sea and some of Ukraine’s most important infrastructure.
Moscow certainly has the power to physically destroy Ukrainian cities and towns, but it does not have the power or intelligence to govern any part of Ukraine because the local people will unite in their efforts to defeat and drive them out. As a result, Putin’s plan will fail, but he will, unfortunately, cause a lot of damage and kill a lot of people in the process.
Europe’s about the face
In the early days of the war, Europe came to the aid of Ukraine in a way that had previously seemed unthinkable. Since then, the streets of Europe have seen an unprecedented wave of humanitarian and national solidarity with the people of Ukraine. However, no matter how much the Ukrainian flag flies over European cities, there are many reasons why the Ukrainian nation itself feels uncomfortable being the only spectator in Putin’s war while fighting the invaders. Europe must look in the mirror and finally admit to itself that their help has come too late.
Sadly, though, tThere is a consensus among the leaders of the Democratic West that NATO should not go to war openly to avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia. Ukrainians see this as a betrayal and a lack of Western support, but there is a valid argument that NATO is working sensitively to avoid further tensions with Moscow. Moreover, the Transatlantic Alliance must first defend its own citizens and European sovereignty before fighting for Ukraine.
Before the war, Most military analysts did not give Ukraine a well-funded, very large and well-trained Russian armed force against a single opportunity. Ukraine’s annual military budget is only 9% of Russia’s spending. In recent years, Ukraine has been going through an ongoing political upheaval. Its economic model remains ancient and its governance system still needs structural reform.
At the same time, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and other members of the leadership were widely inexperienced and considered unprepared to handle complex political and geopolitical issues. But in the last three weeks, many who doubted Zelensky’s ability to lead have had to change their tune as the young president almost taps into Churchill’s courage, determination and sense of duty that has completely electrified his military and the world at large. .
One of Zelensky’s biggest concerns will be to keep his economically weak country afloat with the war. This is where the international community must stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.
Bet more for Ukrainians. Attacks by Putin and his Russian troops are fundamentally an attempt to destroy the reality of the Ukrainian state. For 30 years of its existence, Ukraine has often seemed ineffective, but it hopes to gradually become a European democracy. That hope was dashed when Russian troops attacked and killed Ukrainians in their own homes and in their own country.
Although it is not clear how much Putin will be able to destroy, it is inevitable that the next consequence will be a weak Ukraine and its national sovereignty may be temporarily damaged by adverse conditions.
The current conditions under which Moscow is willing to settle are quite strict – Ukraine agreeing to give some of its territory to Russia, which will disappoint the nation; Ukraine disarmament to a level not capable of future self-defense; And the country’s declared neutrality so that it does not receive security guarantees from anyone other than the Kremlin. This will inevitably lead to the legal codification of Russia’s ability to intervene in Ukraine’s internal and international affairs.
The Ukrainian leadership has vowed never to accept such humiliating conditions. Encouraged by strong resistance against Moscow and united national feeling. Zelensky probably understands that his negotiating position will improve through an effective and prolonged defense. They know that the nation will shed blood, but they also expect a huge humanitarian and economic blow to the Russians, which will be so unbearable that it will be forced to settle on some good terms.
For now, Ukrainian negotiators are actively pursuing agreements that only deal with humanitarian corridors outside the besieged cities. This limited effort, however, is being regularly targeted by Russian troops, which is a war crime.
With its new awakening, Europe should help Ukraine make dynamic changes at the negotiating table. This will be challenging. Like the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the war and the time that lies and misrepresentations make it very difficult for Ukraine or anyone else to believe that Putin is discussing anything in good faith.
The EU and NATO need to send better weapons to Ukraine. This should be accelerated now as the channels of receiving aid may become more limited as the geography of war expands. NATO should deploy more troops in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. In the next few days, Zelensky may have to consider the possibility of occupying more territory in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s offensive efforts. For this, the Ukrainian military will have to apply new resistance tactics. The West should support this potential Ukraine effort by providing strategic advice, logistical support and infrastructural assistance.
Among Ukrainians, there is a popular belief that the country is fighting for the nature of Europe and Western society. This may not be entirely true because it does not meet the criteria for joining the West, but the West should acknowledge that the Ukrainian resistance is causing military losses to the Russians, as well as the economic deprivation that the average Russian is facing. The sanctions could lead Moscow to reconsider the possibility of other possible attacks or interventions in post-Soviet space such as Georgia, Moldova or Kazakhstan.
Following the acquisition of Crimea in 2014, previous sanctions were flawed. They should be shut down and linked to the latest sanctions to further cripple Russia’s economy. The possibility of an oil and gas embargo must be seriously considered.
European law enforcement agencies should prosecute Russia’s senior military commanders, as well as Putin’s inner circle, for war crimes. Even Russian citizens should feel some pain for failing to try to back down against Putin’s totalitarian and neo-imperialist policies.
Since the start of the war, Europe has moved swiftly to help the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have been flooded across the border. This is a policy that should be continued. The EU border with Ukraine is a nightmare for refugees, many of whom are spending their days at border checkpoints and without basic necessities. Europe also needs to recognize the urgent need to develop more comprehensive programs to integrate refugees into Western society and to help them deal with the trauma caused by the war.
Ultimately, the bloc needs to enrich its defense ecosystem and help the armed forces of each of the 27 members of the EU to enhance their operational capabilities. To do this, Europe needs to stimulate and protect its relevant research base and governments need to strongly encourage innovative, less bureaucratic and defense start-ups that stimulate the development of new technologies for both military and civilian purposes.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has proved to all of us that this is what we need now to protect our democracy.