February 24, 2022, will go into history as a dark day in Europe as Russia decided to fully invade Ukraine. How the events unfold remains to be seen. However, one thing is sure: Putin’s track record in war zones is deplorable – in Georgia, Chechnya, Syria, he has engaged in terrible war crimes against civilians. The Russian Government, its farcical ‘Security Council’ and above all, Putin, will be responsible for all suffering he puts upon the Ukrainian people.
In a broader picture, Russia has declared war against democracy, the rule of law, and the possibility for a country to decide its own future. The clash between western soft power and Russia’s hard power has reached a new epitome. While the EU, US and the UK weigh its sanctions, Putin already said in his latest speech that ‘’if someone stands in the way of our county, Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to consequences you have never encountered in your history’’.
As it stands, Putin seems not to be deterred any longer by the economic consequences of his actions. As already visible in his chilling Monday speech, in which he questioned the very existence of the Ukrainian state, Putin and his clique of loyalists have become irrational by their defective worldview. They want to restore the pride of the ante-1991 Russian nation. The Russian people are side-lined by Moscow, while the economic repercussions will undeniably hit them hard.
It can be expected that Russia will become internationally isolated. The recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics was only followed by Syria – even Russia’s loyal allies such as Kazakhstan and Belarus have waited to do so. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how China will react. Their stance towards Taiwan cannot be detached from what is currently visible in Ukraine at the moment.
The hands of the West are tied. They do not want to militarily intervene and seem powerless for now. However, it should put all possible sanctions into place, including SWIFT. The Ukrainian government must be assisted with all financial and humanitarian means. Above all, it should be prepared for the long haul. In the time to come, the fight against autocracy, both internal and external, must be stepped up.
We stand with Ukraine and our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and their struggle in the upcoming period.