Mateusz Morawiecki is Prime Minister of Poland.
WARSAW – Ten days ago I visited the besieged city of Kyiv in good company. Although I had traveled beyond the borders of the European Union, I felt as if I had come to the heart of Europe – a wounded heart, yes, but one that beats with great strength.
Fighting is going on in Kyiv – not only for the future of Ukraine, but for the future of the entire continent. And if Kyiv falls, it will mean the end of Europe as we know it.
A month has passed since Russia launched its all-out attack on Ukraine. Since then, the West has imposed four packages of sanctions on Russia — and yet the war rages on. The measures are clearly not enough. Much more needs to be done, and fast.
To those who warn that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s provocation will lead to World War III, I ask: did Putin ever need an excuse to violate international law? Did he need one to attack Georgia? Did he need one to occupy Crimea? Did he need one to attack Kyiv?
Such remarks remind me of the words of Winston Churchill, who reportedly described the decision to appease Adolf Hitler as a choice between war and shame. “They chose shame,” he added. “They will get war, too.” The passivity of politicians on the eve of World War II did not stop Hitler; it gave him more room to manoeuvre. Our task today is not to repeat the same mistake.
The people I spoke to in Kyiv have more courage than the leaders of the world’s largest countries. But they need more than sympathy or expressions of solidarity. You need real support.
I know that President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy was grateful for our visit to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of my Law and Justice party. But he and the rest of Ukraine rightly expect far more from us.
In addition to stopping payments for oil, gas and coal as soon as possible, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have drawn up a 10-point plan to support Ukraine and end the war.
First, we need to decouple all Russian banks from the international SWIFT payment system. Otherwise, the Russian economy will adapt to the new conditions within a few weeks.
Second, we must establish a common asylum policy for Russian soldiers who refuse to serve the criminal regime in Moscow.
Third, we must completely stop Russian propaganda in Europe. Freedom of expression does not mean the right to lie.
Fourth, we must keep Russian ships out of our ports.
Fifth, the same blockade must be imposed on road transport to and from Russia.
Sixth, we need to sanction not just oligarchs, but their entire business environment.
Seventh, we must suspend visas for all Russian citizens wishing to enter the EU. The Russian people must understand that they will bear the consequences of this war. And we hope that they will turn their backs on Putin.
Eighth, we must impose sanctions on all members of Putin’s United Russia party. They know exactly what is happening in Ukraine and their complicity is undeniable.
Ninth, we must completely ban the export of wartime technologies to Russia.
And tenth, we must exclude Russia from all international organizations. We cannot sit at the table with criminals.
If this doesn’t end the war, we must go further. In Kyiv we proposed a peacekeeping mission under the aegis of NATO and other international organizations. If we cannot introduce effective sanctions, we have no choice: we must protect the people of Ukraine with our own protective shields.
If we are to restore peace, Putin needs to know where the red line is – the line he must not cross. The fact that Russia has a nuclear arsenal cannot be an excuse for passivity. We must be aware of this threat, but it cannot hold us back. Otherwise, Putin will only go further.
What will we do when Putin next reaches for Chisinau, the capital of Moldova? Or if he attacks Vilnius and Warsaw? What if he wants to occupy Helsinki? Will we not take this threat seriously until he sends tanks to Berlin? The line must be drawn, and now.
The plan we propose is not only possible, it is necessary. We must have the courage not to turn our backs on Ukraine’s suffering and face this historic challenge.
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