We Ukrainians want peace more than anyone else in the world. We have been fighting Russian troops on land, at sea and in the air, as well as in cyberspace and information space, for more than 100 days. At first, defense specialists had little hope of success. They changed their posture when we showed our ability to resist. Now we must show that we have the strength to stay on course and resist the temptations of false decisions.
In this existential battle for our future, ostensibly friendly or comforting pundits and politicians are urging us to surrender in order to achieve peace more quickly. Of course, we do not want the war to last longer than necessary, but we will not be tempted into a false agreement that will only make it worse.
Among those who advised a quick resolution of the problem was former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who offered to give up territory in exchange for ending the war. His intervention was abhorrent, and for a famous strategist, Kissinger was surprisingly non-strategic. Giving up territory will not end the war. This will strengthen it. Russia has not abandoned its main goal: to get rid of Ukraine and wipe us off the face of the earth. Any concession would reward and legitimize his strategy. Instead of stalling the achievement of its broader military goals, Russia will have the courage.
Responding to force with territorial concessions would also have tragic consequences on a global scale. This would open the door for 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 an offer from a well-known expert was very unexpected. However, the idea was immediately taken up by the Russians, who cynically accused Ukraine of wanting to continue an unnecessary war. Some media analysts have also begun to discuss the need for an agreement to secure peace. This is manipulative and wrong.
Imagine the following excruciating scenario: your house is invaded by a street gang who then take over part of it. What peace agreement is possible? Nobody. I expect the police to take care of it. The idea that compromise with a criminal act leads to peace is ludicrous. It is no less absurd in the case of the Russian invasion.
Ukraine can expel Russia
Many armed conflicts end in an agreement, but it would be illogical to assume that everyone should do this. The sole reason for this invasion was Putin’s obsession with subjugating Ukraine. What agreement is appropriate when your opponent’s goal is for you to not exist? The incredible and cruel treatment of Russians in our occupied cities and towns is known throughout the world. Real peace can only be ensured when the invader leaves our country.
As the old saying goes, the night is darkest just before dawn. Russia is using the most force available, but shaken out of 1960s tanks before battle, using conscripts, and breaking into new military units without collective training, prove that it has exhausted its capabilities. That is why Russia is promoting the idea of an agreement. He needs a break to demonstrate his achievements to Russian public opinion and give himself time to recover before embarking on his attempt to subdue Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces are more effective than Russian ones. With more equipment and ammunition, pushing Russia out of the country is a realistic scenario for Ukraine. The flow of Western aid has 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 do not affect the general situation, and the equipment successfully reaches the front line. American weapons — part of an unprecedented $40 billion aid package that will hopefully include much-needed multiple launch rocket systems — will soon begin to arrive.
not accept injustice
The free world has decided to stop putting up with Russia’s aggressive behavior, but it must be consistent in its approach. For years, Western leaders have tolerated Russian aggression: the invasion of Georgia, the invasion of Ukraine, the occupation of Crimea, the occupation of the Black Sea, targeted killings in the UK, cyberattacks, alleged election interference, human rights violations. Each time he said to himself: “This is Russia. It’s always been that way.”
It’s time to stop putting up with such injustice. How many times have people been told to put up with something because “it’s always been that way”? Racial discrimination, sexual violence, domestic violence, corruption, social inequality and organized crime were ubiquitous in society. Everything changed only when people challenged the old ways and refused to accept them anymore.
We cannot allow the attitudes of the past to dominate the way we live now. Kissinger may have been instrumental in creating the world as it used to be, a world that, it must be said, was far from perfect. But we will no longer put up with the fact that an unjust and unjust past determines our future.
Andriy Zahorodnyuk is President of the Center for Defense Strategies and a former Minister of Defense of Ukraine.
Translated by Julian Knochart
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