I’ll start with a question. We want Ukraine to win? That may sound stupid. Of course we want Ukraine to win, most would say. No national leader in the EU or the rest of free Europe – except perhaps Viktor Orban in Hungary – desires victory Wladimir Putins aggression.
But I repeat the question because there are disagreements in the West on this, and those disagreements will be put to the test this month. Ukraine’s foreign minister is certainly right when he says his country needs help now more than ever.
RussiaUkraine’s withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv is indeed a sign of Ukraine’s phenomenal bravery and Putin’s stunning failure, but it is also the prelude to a larger, more focused attack.
Instead of his original botched coup against President Zelenskyy’s government, Putin now intends a sustained offensive, moving west from the current frontline in Donbas, to dismember the country.
Are we in the West determined to do everything we can – and that is far more than we have already done – to ensure that Putin’s new offensive fails?
Our answer depends on what we think is at stake. The more soothing approach, which seems to be favored by President Macron of France, is to adopt a “we must all live together after this” stance.
So conversations must be had to calm the angry bully by giving him a piece of what he wants. In this analysis, the fact that the tyrant is aiming for a crushing victory is a reason to back down a bit.
Germany, despite its hardened mood towards Russia, seems to have comparable feelings. Behind its reluctance to immediately replace its Russian gas and oil supplies is more than a natural concern for the living standards of its own citizens.
There is also a feeling that everything could go back to normal if only we could get these Ukrainian troubles out of the way.
For understandable historical reasons, Germany is reluctant to acknowledge change. It has had the modern age incredibly easily, surrounded by friendly neighbors and saved many billions of euros through demilitarization.
The Jewish Chronicle ran a notable headline last week: “Outgoing Israeli Ambassador to Berlin Says Germany Should Be Allowed to Rearm for the Sake of World Peace.”
A call to arms from such a source is difficult for Germans to understand. They still want to live their quiet lives when they can.
In both France and Germany, therefore, the issue is not so much that Ukraine should win (although of course they wouldn’t mind), but that the killing must stop. Pine-pine not war-war is the cliché.
There is so much fear behind this attitude that they don’t talk about it directly. The euphemism is “full escalation”. What is meant is a nuclear attack. Putin has publicly threatened to do so at least three times (“unprecedented consequences”).
For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, our continent is threatened by the first use of the bomb.
This fear is valid, but we must consider why Putin is trying to instill it. For he sees his attack on Ukraine not only as a reclaim of territory he mistakenly believes to be his country, but also as his tool to destroy the existing world order.
This is why talk of a third world war is not entirely fanciful, and why China is tacitly supporting Russia. It’s their chance to end Western hegemony.
It follows that a Russian victory means not only the destruction and enslavement of Ukraine, but also the overthrow of the world order by something infinitely more cruel – an unholy alliance last seen in the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939.
It follows in turn that Ukraine must win, not just to secure its national rights, but for the sake of all of us.
I know Ukraine is not in NATO, but Russia’s attack on this one country is definitely an attack on all.
If NATO lets Russia defeat the second largest country in Europe, Putin knows that nothing can stop him.
He will have succeeded in converting the great purpose of nuclear weapons – deterring aggression – into deterrent self-defense. Ukraine will have been left to swing. Then China will take Taiwan when it feels like it.
Three major Western countries understood this. These are, in descending order of their zeal, Poland, Great Britain and the United States. You are fully aware of the nuclear danger but try not to let it paralyze you.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss recently wrote: “Now is the time to be strong to make sure we put a stop to Putin’s aggression for good.”
She is certainly right about the timing and purpose of hitting Putin hardest when he is at his weakest, which is the case now. But the allies could be more creative about what Ukraine’s legitimate defenses are.
For example, if we gave Ukraine an ICBM, we would be on the wrong side of the line because we would be empowering them to attack Moscow.
But if we give him artillery, mortars, armored vehicles, even the famous MiGs, with which the United States refused to help, all this can be used in the country for the legitimate self-defense of this country.
In the week that the world has discovered that Putin is a war criminal, this should be more obvious than ever.
We can also do more with sanctions. When I spoke to President Zelenskyy’s office yesterday, they emphasized that the current loss of revenue is crucial to the weakening of Russia.
As for diplomacy, although we are beginning to push Russia out of the international system, we are still inconsistent. It is strange that Russia remains one of our main parties in the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Indeed, if the forthcoming battle is well fought and the Russian army is badly wounded, the moment may come when negotiations can take place.
The people who will tell us when that moment has come will be the Ukrainians themselves.
In the meantime, assume that a Ukrainian victory is still unlikely, and remember that the story of David and Goliath would never have made it into scripture if Goliath had survived. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd. 2022)
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/now-is-the-time-for-the-west-to-decide-if-it-wants-ukraine-to-win-this-war-against-russia-41535913.html Now it’s time for the West to decide if it wants Ukraine to win this war against Russia