Monday, July 4

Ukraine is desperate for peace, but we will not sign a bad agreement with Russia

We Ukrainians want peace more than anyone in the world. We have been fighting Russian forces on land, sea and air, and in cyber and information spaces for more than 100 days. At first, the defense experts had little hope that we would succeed. They changed their posture when we showed our ability to resist. Now we have to show that we have the strength to stay the course and resist the temptations of false resolution.

In this existential battle for our future, ostensibly friendly or consoling pundits and politicians insistently suggest that we must surrender in order to achieve peace faster. Of course, we do not want the war to last longer than necessary, but we will not be seduced into a false agreement that will only make things worse.

Among those who advised a quick fix was former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who proposed that we should give up territory in exchange for ending the war. His intervention was appalling, and for a renowned strategist, Kissinger was surprisingly unstrategic. Giving up territory will not end the war. He will intensify it. Russia has not abandoned its main goal: to get rid of Ukraine and wipe us off the map. Any concession would reward and legitimize her strategy. Instead of putting a brake on the pursuit of its broader military goals, Russia would be emboldened.

Responding to force with territorial concessions would also have tragic consequences on a global scale. It would open the door to similar cases around the world. We do not want to live in a world where brute force decides which country we live in and which regime we belong to. We do not want to live in a world where only large countries can be truly sovereign.

Receiving such a suggestion from a renowned expert was very surprising. However, the idea was immediately embraced by the Russians, who cynically blamed Ukraine for wanting to continue an unnecessary war. Some analysts in the media also began to debate the need to reach an agreement to ensure peace. This is manipulative and wrong.

Imagine the following harrowing scenario: your house is invaded by a street gang who then occupy part of it. What peaceful agreement is possible? None. I would expect the police to take care of it. The idea that compromising with a criminal act leads to peace is ridiculous. It is equally absurd in the case of the Russian invasion.

Ukraine can expel Russia

Many armed conflicts end with an agreement, but it would be illogical to assume that everyone should. The only reason for this invasion was Putin’s obsession with subjugating Ukraine. What agreement fits when the objective of your adversary is that you do not exist? The unspeakable and brutal way in which the Russians treat our occupied cities and towns is known throughout the world. True peace can only be assured when the invader leaves our country.

As the old saying goes, the night is darkest just before dawn. Russia is applying the maximum force available, but the 1960s tanks that have been dusted off for battle, the use of conscripts, and the hacking of new military units without collective training are proof that it has exhausted its options. That is why Russia is promoting the idea of ​​an agreement. He needs a break to showcase his achievements to Russian public opinion and give himself time to recover before going ahead with his attempt to subjugate Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces are more efficient than Russian forces. With more equipment and ammunition, pushing Russia back out of the country is a realistic scenario for Ukraine. The flow of Western aid has only just begun and will continue to grow.

Putin’s desperate attempts to intercept supplies from the West by bombing rail lines and fuel depots are strikingly similar to Hitler’s attempts to attack Allied convoys in the Atlantic. But they are not affecting the general situation, and the equipment is successfully reaching the front lines. US weapons — part of the unprecedented $40 billion aid package, which we hope will include much-needed multiple rocket launch systems — will start arriving soon.

not accept injustice

The free world has decided to stop accepting Russia’s bullying behavior, but it must be consistent in its approach. For many years, Western leaders tolerated Russian aggression: the invasion of Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the occupation of Crimea, the occupation of the Black Sea, the targeted assassinations in the UK, the cyberattacks, the alleged meddling in elections, the human rights abuses. On each occasion, he said to himself: “It’s Russia. It has always been like this”.

It is time to stop accepting such injustices. How many times have people been told to put up with something because “it’s always been this way”? Racial discrimination, sexual abuse, domestic violence, corruption, social inequality and organized crime have been endemic in societies. Things have only changed when people have challenged the old ways and refused to accept them any longer.

We cannot allow the approaches of the past to dominate the way we live now. Kissinger may have played an important role in creating the world as it used to be, a world that was far from perfect, I must say. But we will no longer accept that an unjust and inequitable past defines our future.

Andriy Zagorodnyuk is President of the Center for Defense Strategies and a former Ukrainian Defense Minister.

Translation by Julian Cnochaert

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