Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, co-founder of the Center for National Resilience and Development
The West is now trying not to go for additional escalation, and this is absolutely the wrong logic. This is because Putin has now resorted to a classic strategy, which I call the “Aleppo strategy.” Remember how the Russians deliberately created a humanitarian catastrophe, killed tens (and some say hundreds) of thousands of people? Now, the same general who did this in Syria is repeating it in Ukraine.
Here are the steps that the West should take. The European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. While this is not enough and is not legally binding, it is very noble and weighty. More on this later. So why don’t the US and UK start this process? They have developed legislation. This will have practical implications both in terms of tightening sanctions and in terms of criminalizing frozen Russian assets. You can start to select these assets or say that this will be done.
We are grateful for the next package of military assistance, but it’s time to talk about a qualitatively new weapon, and to do so right now. So far as this logic of treating Russia like the frog in the pot of water may be correct, it is happening at the expense of us Ukrainians. Therefore, I believe that the West should clearly put forward an ultimatum to Putin.
The West does not fully understand us. They do not fully understand our steadfastness and determination, our unwillingness to compromise. We understand that it is possible to compromise with civilized people, but Putin is certainly not among this group. And here, there is no chance of compromise with him.
Either we are going to put real pressure on Russia, or a situation is created (and part of the West has this opinion) whereby the war comes to a temporary freeze and everyone waits to see what happens next. I really don’t like this scenario. This is no time to play the role of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand, because in this analogy, the floor in the zoo is concrete.
We must say clearly: no negotiations on Russian terms. This must be a position we share with the West. We also expect new weapons from the West. In addition, there are serious things that the West can use – it is not necessary to immediately throw missiles at Moscow. They could start a massive cyber attack on Russia. And many more that I won’t go into detail about. Additional sanctions could be introduced.
It’s winter now. This is not the time for exceptions and endless games. Either we, together with the West, raise the stakes, or we realize that we must not only hold out to the end, but must raise the stakes ourselves. And then Pandora’s box will open.
The West wants to at least leave open if not a door, but some kind of window for conversation with the current Russian regime. But we are at a difficult point. This must be understood. Because winter is beginning. New energy costs have started. Conversations and politics are beginning and here it is – like with the Three Musketeers – one for all, and all for one. Or we stand alone for all to the end. But then the wreckage of this Russia will fall on you, the West, as well, since a significant part of the West hates Putin, humiliates him, but because they are afraid of Putin himself, they are also afraid of Putin not existing. This is because the West wants all risks to be controlled. It was the same when the USSR collapsed. Therefore, this logic of “let’s think about how this process can be controlled, so that it stretches over time” is totally unappealing to us Ukrainians.