It’s time to be bolder in helping Ukraine – POLITICO

Alar Karis is the President of Estonia.

The pink elephant that a little girl played with a month and a half ago at a day care center lay covered in dust in the ruins of a building destroyed by Russian bombs. In Borodyanka, near Kyiv – in the midst of destruction and devastation – I and the Presidents of the other Baltic States and Poland stood and stared at the horrific face of war. I thought of my own children and grandchildren and was overcome with sadness and sorrow.

As Europe we have failed. We failed because we couldn’t dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from starting his war. And every town and village that Russia is now taking in Ukraine is part of our failure. Every Ukrainian injured, killed or deported from his homeland contributes to our failure, as do the millions of Ukrainian war refugees in every European country.

It is important that we start helping Ukraine more effectively, more visible and more courageously. Russia’s aim is to destroy the existing Ukrainian state; Our goal is to prevent this. It’s time to shake off our fear and make bold decisions.

Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations states that a UN member has the inherent right to individual or collective self-defense when faced with an armed attack. I emphasize the word “collective” because it underscores a very important point: Ukraine has the right to defend itself, and the rest of us, for whom the Charter is an essential cornerstone of international relations, have a duty to help. This means collective self-defense of Ukraine.

We must do everything we can to ensure that Ukraine’s strong military resistance and the sanctions that areolating Russia make the cost of the war to Moscow so high that it is eventually forced to back down.

Without exception, economic sanctions must be strong, effective and implemented immediately. This means some inconveniences for us, but look at the footage of Ukrainian towns and villages after the Russian army left. As we face Putin’s war, we realize that the discomfort we experience under the umbrella of the European Union and NATO is nothing compared to the suffering of Ukrainians.

It’s time to embrace debates that involve thinking outside the box. We need an oil embargo and we need it now. By paying Russia for energy, we continue to fund its war. Let’s not forget that 60 percent of Russia’s oil exports go to Europe and that last year the Kremlin made 180 billion euros from the sale of crude oil and petroleum products.

As for gas, Estonia has made a proposal to the EU called “escrow”: part of the payment for gas will be made directly to Russia, while the other part will be transferred to a separate account and frozen in Ukraine, which will receive it in the future can use to rebuild their shattered nation. Gas cannot be piped back into the ground, so there is no reason to worry that we will not get gas if we implement this proposal.

The head of the UN World Food Program, David Beasley, has also warned us that the war in Ukraine will lead to the worst food crisis since World War II – and World Bank President David Malpass accepted this. As such, we need to discuss whether and how, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the UN Charter, we could directly help keep the port of Odessa open to Ukrainian grain ships at the invitation of the Ukrainian government.

Ukrainians to say They have 20 million tons of grain in storage silos – probably 50 million with this year’s harvest – and if it stays in storage there will be no sowing for years to come. This quantity cannot be transported to the world market by rail – there is simply too much of it.

Western countries should establish a military presence in part of the Black Sea to ensure the safe movement of merchant and humanitarian ships. Surely some will argue against it, saying that no one would take such a risk. But in the end it is a question of our willingness to meet humanitarian needs. And where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Ukraine also needs weapons to defend itself, both those that its military knows how to use and more modern, more effective weapons that require rapid training. We can offer them this training. As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its next phase, we should work more on planning and coordinating military assistance to ensure Ukraine’s urgent needs are met. That would really be a powerful sign of our unity.

The war in Europe affects us all; nobody can ignore it. That would betray Europe. And only effective sanctions and Ukraine’s continued courage will eventually bring us to a point where Russia will begin meaningfully and seriously discussing a ceasefire. Only then will peace finally be possible.

But our goal must be a peace that Ukrainians agree to. We are not pressuring President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to back down, promoting the idea that a bad peace is still better than a war. We will not accept a peace that Ukraine has to put up with because missiles are aimed at it.

“Only Ukraine will win this war,” wrote Eero Epner, a well-known Estonian director and journalist who visited Kyiv with me and my fellow Polish and Baltic presidents. “But if it is lost, Ukraine will not be the one to lose it: we will be the ones to lose it.”

We can – we must not – lose. It's time to be bolder in helping Ukraine - POLITICO

Fry Electronics Team

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