More Needs to Be Done to Save Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier standing on a street of Bucha after the Russian military left the city, at the beginning of April. AP Photo/Felipe Dana

Some days, it might feel as if Ukrainians are fighting the Russian army and its dictator alone. A bunch of things have happened since the beginning of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, on February 24. We’ve been witnessing a follow up to what was taking place a few years ago, when Russia took control of Crimea, the Ukrainian northern coast of the Black Sea.

Russia has blood on its hands again. For more than a hundred days already, the military has absolutely no shame, killing thousands of civilians. Bombs have been flying across Ukraine, mainly in the East of the country, in the Donbas region. Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country in search of a better life somewhere else. Lots more refugees are expected if this sort of status quo is maintained by ally countries.

A few days ago, President Zelensky said that Ukraine is now approximately 20% controlled by Russian troops. Russia’s excuse to invade the Donbas region is that they want to “liberate” the region on behalf of pro-Russian separatists. They also say that the Zelensky administration is composed of “drug addicts and neo-Nazis” and that’s why Ukrainians deserve better. This is another lie to be added to the vast amount of nonsense that has been repeated by Putin and his accomplices since the start of the war. So after taking control of Mariupol and Kherson, nothing seems to be stopping Putin’s ambition.

Institute for the Study of War

Since it all began, western countries have said over and over again that they have picked the side of democracy over tyranny. We understand that the US and its allies rally behind Ukraine, but are these countries doing enough to stop Putin’s madness? Despite that, it is a good thing that Biden is now leader of the free world instead of Trump. In a conflict of this magnitude, better to have stability rather than to have chaos. The only problem with the US administration at the present moment is that they cannot be fully invested in helping Ukraine since other pressing domestic issues have come up in the last weeks. The racist attack in Buffalo that took the life of 10 people as well as the Uvalde Elementary school shooting have shocked the entire nation, prompting calls for tangible gun laws reforms.

At the end of February and at the beginning of March, it was normal that the response in reaction to the war in Ukraine needed to be gradual. We wanted to see how Putin would behave going forward and we wanted to know his true intention. His aspirations are now pretty clear. The ruler wants to take control of the country and replace the legitimate president; doing whatever it takes along the way to meet that objective. If the dictator succeeds, it will leave the door wide open for other invasions, like China’s ambitions to occupy Taiwan. It could also mean that dictatorships have more freedom to perpetrate human rights abuses against their own. We are for sure living in a terrifying era.

A few months ago, countries were debating whether to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This is crucially required in order to block Russian warplanes attacking Ukraine’s cities and other civilian targets. It was in part asked by President Zelensky. It would desperately save lives. That consideration died pretty quickly, amidst the world seeing atrocities that were out of this world. Even after seeing civilians bodies lay in the streets, especially in Bucha, the world leaders weren’t convinced that it was the right pathway to end the conflict.

Some are scared that a direct involvement from NATO countries to stop the invasion could lead to World War III. They say that in this eventuality, Russia could well decide to use nuclear arms. Putin would then have the direct support of his closest allies in China, Syria or North Korea to pursue his disgusting and illegal “special operation” in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, if Russia decides to set foot in a NATO country, even if it’s just an inch, the alliance would intervene on the ground without hesitation. So if Putin wants to take part of Poland or Moldova, expect all eyes of the world to be on Europe. Since Ukraine isn’t part of NATO or the European Union at the moment, western countries state that being directly involved in the country would do more harm than good in the long run.

We have been imposing multiple economic sanctions on Russia over the months. These sanctions have not been sufficient to stop Putin in his madness. It has hurt Russia, yes, but it hasn’t made a huge difference. If western countries want Ukraine to win the war, they need to do more than impose sanctions as well as sending arms to the people on the ground. Attacking Russia’s financial institutions and systems simply doesn’t work. We all need to look at the bigger picture and learn from Russia’s past. They don’t mind if sanctions hurt their own people. From now on, Putin only cares about his place in history. We need to do everything possible to stop the carnage.

On top of that, Ukraine needs to receive those arms faster in order to better react to threats. The civilians who stayed on the ground to defend their country deserve reinforcement. The men who had previously no military experience don’t have much of a chance against the Russian army if they stand alone.

The call for help and other countries soldiers is pretty clear. Zelensky needs more resources to be able to defeat the devil on earth. More resources are also in demand to protect the president’s life. It is at risk. What the 44-year-old leader is asking for isn’t a ride, but much more ammunition. We also need to protect Kiev. This is the only way that the country can avoid a regime change. If ever Russian troops take control of the capital, everything is possible.

On the diplomatic front, Macron saying that we shouldn’t humiliate Russia, but only seek diplomatic solutions before anything else is quite a revolting statement for all of the Ukrainians who are fighting for their survival at the moment. I understand that we must negotiate with Putin but there is a way of talking about the invasion. It goes without saying that negotiations are only possible if cease-fires are put in place throughout the country.

There are a lot of concerns globally when it comes to inflation and the price of gas that keeps climbing. One way to bring the cost of living down and to see the difference at the groceries stores is to intervene and try to stop this invasion as soon as possible, unlike what some might say. The status quo clearly doesn’t work. Together, we are all united in a fight for the safeguard of democracy and future generations. We need to go back to 1991, when Ukraine got its full independence from the Soviet Union. That would be satisfying.

Isn’t Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again?

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Olivier Pilon

Graduated with a masters degree in politics from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Human rights, LGBT issues, sports and music. Twitter: @OlivierPilon